Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Lagos High Court in Ikeja will on May 9 resume further hearing in a trial of a lawyer, Kole Bello, who was accused by the Lagos State Government of forging a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of a land belonging to a deceased woman, Mrs. Francisca Awolaja.
Bello was arraigned before the court alongside one, Chukwu Victor, Friday Palmer and Osumah Terry on October 30, 2017 by the Lagos State Government on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud and forgery.
The defendants were said to have conspired among themselves and forged the C of O with reference No. 63/63/1989, dated September 28,1989 “with the intent that it may be acted upon as genuine” in order to take over a plot of land which is the Estate of the late Mrs. Francisca Awolaja.
They were also accused of conniving with another to impersonate the late Awolaja in other to fraudulently sell her land to Rotimi Olubeko for N5 million.
They were alleged to have committed the offence which contravened Sections 422, 423 and 467 of the Criminal Law, Cap. C17, Vol.2, Law of Lagos State, 2003, sometimes in December 2001, at Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, Lagos. The defendants however pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the last hearing of the matter, the third prosecution witness, Felix Awolaja, narrated how he was arrested by the police over a petition written against him by the presumed buyer of the land, Olubeko.
The witness, who is the first son of the late Mrs. Awolaja, the owner of the land in question, disclosed that owing to the controversy surrounding the sale of his late mother’s land , he instituted legal action against Olubeko and won up till the Court of Appeal.
He added that it was based on the revelation about the fraudulent sale of the land that prompted the state government to drag the defendants to court. He said he was dismayed that the said Olubeko was not a defendant in the case.
“I am amazed that Olubeko was not among the defendants facing trial in this court. The police report of investigation indicted Olubeko but I don’t how a prime suspect was turned to a prosecution witness, it really amazed me,” the witness said.
Under cross-examination, Awolaja disclosed that he had no dealings with any of the defendants, saying the only person he had issue with is Olubeko.
The court had earlier in the course of proceedings admitted the lawyer to bail in the sum of one million naira with one surety, who must sworn to an affidavit of means, in like sum.
Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to May 9.