A Lagos lawyer, Kole Bello, has opened his defence at an Ikeja high court in a case of alleged sale of a dead woman’s property.
Bello is standing trial before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo alongside three others for allegedly selling a landed property in Lekki belonging to the late Mrs Francisca Awolaja.
Other defendants in the matter are Chukwu Victor, Friday Palmer and Osumah Terry.
They are facing a three-count charge on conspiracy, fraud and forgery filed against them by Lagos State Government in October 2017.
In the charge, Bello and others were alleged to have forged a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) with reference no. 63/63/1989, dated September 28,1989, of landed property in Lekki, belonging to the late Mrs Awolaja.
The defendants were also accused of impersonataing the late Awolaja in order to fraudulently sell her land to one Mr Rotimi Olubeko for the sum of N5 million.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the resumed proceedings of Bello and others trial, the defendants opened their defence in the matter.
They told the court the role they played in the alleged illegal transaction.
Bello, who was led in evidence-in-chief by his counsel, Ayodele Akintunde (SAN), told the court how a woman with the name Francisca Awolaja was introduced to him by one Amaka Kosoko.
According to him, Kosoko told him that the woman wanted to sell her land in Lekki, now in dispute.
Bello said being a lawyer who deal in sale of landed property, he asked them for the proof of ownership of the land and that the woman who claimed to be Francisca Awolaja, gave her photocopy of the C of O of the the land and her international passport as proof.
He said to satisfy his conscience, he went to state Ministry of Lands and conducted search on the property.
He said the search confirmed that the documents given to her by the so called Francisca Awolaja were geniue.
Bello told the court that he proceeded to advertise the sale of the property in a magazine called ‘Castle’.
Bello told the court that after the advert, many people contacted him showing interest but it was only Olubeko that showed commitment.
He said before the Deed of Assignment was executed, Olubeko‘s lawyer Asuquo also conducted a search on the property and all the parties held meetings in his office at Mushin before a deal was struck.
Bello, therefore, urged the court to dismiss charge against him, saying that he neither forged the documents for the sale of land nor conspired with anybody to commit the offence proffered against him and others by the state.
Other defendants also testified for theirselves and gave accounts of their roles in the alleged illegal transaction. They denied the allegations, urged the court to dismiss the charge against them.
They, in their various evidence, insisted that they didn’t conspire with anybody to perpetrate illegality.
All the defendants closed their defence same day.
Justice Taiwo has adjourned the matter till April 29 for adoption of written addresses by the parties.
Bello was convicted in a similar matter in the past and served jail before his conviction was upturned by the Court of Appeal.
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