One of the princes of Kweme land in Badagry, Adebowale James, has narrated to the Lagos State Special Offences Court how his fellow prince, Semasa James, defrauded his 26 siblings of N500m, property of their late father, Oba Afolabi James.
Semasa is standing trial alongside one Afolabi Kazeem on seven counts of conspiracy, cheating, stealing, forging of company resolution and fraudulent disposal of trust property.
According to the Special Fraud Unit prosecutor, Mr O. O. Olabisi, the prince fraudulently converted N500m property belonging to the late king’s estate between 2000 and 2017.
Adebowale, an Abuja-based businessman, while being led in evidence by Olabisi, explained to the court how Semasa, the sole administrator of their late father’s estate, allegedly abused his position and mismanaged funds in his care.
According to the prince, Semasa’s alleged mismanagement of funds and property belonging to the estate of the late king was uncovered by his siblings after he cheated them on the sale of a property at Dideolu Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He said, “My dad died on January 30, 2002, and was survived by 27 children. He left a whole lot of valuable property that I cannot fully mention in choice areas of Surulere, Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island and Badagry. My father did not leave a will, to the best of my knowledge.
“The first defendant (Semasa) is my half-brother; he is the eight-child out of 27 children and he is the fourth son; he is the only administrator of the estate and the signatory to the account.
“Last year, on behalf of the family, I helped the first defendant to get a buyer for the family property at Dideolu Estate, Victoria Island; I found a developer and the property was sold for N300m.
“The money was paid in full and he (Semasa) took half of the money for himself and sent peanuts to the rest of the family. We had before then agreed on a sharing formula and everyone was to get an equal amount regardless of the age.
“The beneficiaries, who are 26 in number, were supposed to get N10m each; I received approximately N7m, while others got N5m each; the first defendant kept N190m for himself, sharing N110m to the rest of us.”
According to Adebowale, Semasa, who had before sharing the proceeds informed his siblings that he was entitled to N40m from the sale of the property and was not challenged for the sake of maintaining peace, kept a substantial part of the funds for himself.
He added that after Semasa allegedly cheated his siblings of their inheritance, the family discovered that he had illegally leased out a property located on Plot 282 Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos to Ecobank Plc.
Under cross-examination by Semasa’s counsel, Martin Oyibo, Adebowale told the court that he and other siblings had difficulty accessing funds for their school fees and upkeep when Semasa was managing the estate.
He said, “We used to collect our school fees from the first defendant’s office; they were always delayed and we could not function properly because of that.
“During the time we took the matter to the SFU, the family hired an auditor, who revealed that he had mismanaged the estate to the tune of N500m.”
The presiding judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, granted Kazeem, the second defendant, bail in the sum of N5m with two sureties in like sum.
She adjourned the case till November 28 for the continuation of trial.