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Lawyer, three others close defence over alleged sale of late woman’s property

LAGOS – A legal practitioner, Kole Bello who is standing trial for allegedly selling a dead woman’s property with forged documents has closed his defence before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the State High Court, Ikeja.

The Lagos State Government had arraigned the lawyer, Bello before the court alongside Chukwu Victor, Friday Palmer, and Osumah Terry sometimes in October 2017, on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud, and forgery.

Reports show that Bello was convicted in a similar matter where he served jail term before his conviction was upturned by the Court of Appeal.

In the charge, the prosecution alleged that Bello and others forged a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) with reference no. 63/63/1989, dated Sept. 28, 1989, of landed property in Lekki, belonging to late Mrs. Francisca Awolaja.

The defendants were also accused of impersonating the late Awolaja in order to fraudulently sell her land to one Mr. Rotimi Olubeko for the sum of N5 million.

The defendants, however, denied the charge

At the last adjourned date, the court had fixed yesterday for adoption of written addresses by the parties but the proceedings could not go on as scheduled.

The prosecutor, F O Ligali who prayed the court for a short adjournment in order to file his written address, told the court that he was just being served on April 26, by the 4th defendant and he needed time to reply.

Counsel to the defendants, however, did not oppose the prosecution. Consequently, the court adjourned till May 15, for the adoption of written addresses.

Bello in his defence told the court that being a lawyer who deals in sale of landed property, asked them for the proof of ownership of the land, and the so-called Francisca Awolaja gave her photocopy of C of O of the land and her international passport as proof.

He said to satisfy his conscience, he went to the State Ministry of Lands, to conduct search on the property and it was confirmed that the documents given to her by the so-called Francisca Awolaja were genuine adding that he advertised the sale of the property in a magazine called ‘Castle ‘.

Bello told the court that after the advert for sale of the property, many people contacted him showing interest but it was only Olubeko that showed commitment.

He said that before the Deed of Assignment was executed, Olubeko’s lawyer Asuquo conducted search on the property, and all the parties held series of meeting in his office at Mushin.

Bello who urged the court to dismiss the charge against him held that he neither forged documents for the sale of land nor conspired with anybody to commit the offence pressed against him and others.

Other defendants also testified for their selves and gave accounts of their roles in the alleged illegal transaction.

They all denied the allegations and urged the court to dismiss the charge against them, insisting that they didn’t conspire with anybody to perpetuate illegality.

After close of defendants defence, the court adjourned further hearing in the charge till April 29, for adoption of written addresses by the parties.

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