An Investigating Police Officer (IPO) Mohammed Salisu, at the weekend, narrated before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, how a landed property belonging to a deceased woman, Mrs. Francisca Awolaja was acquired by a Lagos businessman, Mr. Rotimi Olubeko with a forged Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). He made the disclosure at the weekend while testifying in the ongoing trial of a lawyer, Kole Bello and three others over alleged forgery.
According to him, he was directed to investigate the case following a petition written by the businessman to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police, Ikoyi, Lagos and counterpetition written by the complainant to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
He said: “Initially it was the businessman who wrote a petition to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) against the complainant, Mr. Awolaja, the first son of the late woman. Based on the petition, Mr Awolaja was arrested, detained and interrogated by the police while other defendants wrote statements at the SFU as witnesses in support of Olubeko’s claim over ownership of the land against the complainant.
“However, Mr. Awolaja wrote a counter- petition to the IGP and the case was initially assigned to the Commissioner of Police at the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCIID), Alagbon, Ikoyi Lagos. It was later assigned to my team following a signal from the IGP that the case files should be harmonized.
“We harmonized the case files and invited all parties involved in the matter but Olubeko refused to honour our invitation until he was declared wanted. “In the course of investigation, facts about how the defendants went to the bank to complete the transaction and how they impersonated the deceased to sell her land to Olubeko with a forged C of O, was revealed.
“In the course of investigating the matter, an official of the State Ministry of Lands, Olanipekun Cole, told us that it was the photocopy of the original C of O in the file at the ministry that was illegally removed and cloned by the defendants to sell the land.”
The police officer said he was dismayed that despite the role played by the businessman in the perpetration of the alleged crime, he was not prosecuted as recommended.
Bello was arraigned alongside 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.
They however denied committing the alleged offences. All the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences sometime in December 2001 at Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, Lagos.