A property developer, Alhaji Ayobami Oseni, have been convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, by n Ebute-Meta Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, for defrauding 133 accommodation seekers of N25 million.
The court presided by Chief Magistrate O. O. Olatunji convicted Oseni following his plea of “guilty” to 267 counts of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretences and stealing, leveled against him by the police.
The police had told the court that the offences contravened Sections 285, 312 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Chief Magistrate Olatunji had sentenced Oseni to 10 years imprisonment on each of the 267 counts without an option of fine.
The sentences, according to Chief Magistrate Olatunji are to run concurrently, taking effect from April 26, 2017 when the convict was remanded in prison custody following the revocation of his bail.
After convicting and sentencing the developer, Chief Magistrate Olatunji ordered the Lagos State Government, to sell the building and share the proceeds among the 133 victims of the fraud.
Before the conviction and sentence of the developer, Olatunji asked Oseni for an allocutus.
Responding, the convict, Oseni said: “Well, I plead for mercy from the court concerning the statement against me. I plead that the court should temper justice with mercy. I have learnt my lesson. I have been in detention for two years, 19 days. It will never occur again. I end my statement.”
The convict was arraigned by the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) on December 7, 2012.
He pleaded not guilty.
At the commencement of trial on February 27, 2013, Prosecuting counsel Abraham Fadipe, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told the court that Oseni was the developer of a one-storey building at No 3, Church Close, Ajao Estate, Lagos.
He described the building as containing four mini flats and two self-contained apartments.
According to Fadipe, Oseni posed as a landlord and erected ‘To let’ signs around Ajao Estate while the building was under construction.
He obtained rents, agency and agreement fees ranging from N160,000 to N300,000 and totaling N25m from at least 133 accommodation seekers on the pretext that each of them would get an apartment in the building.
The prosecution called five witnesses, four of whom testified that when they arrived at the property to take possession, it was already occupied.
The prospective tenants petitioned the Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department (LASRETRAD), an agency of the Lagos State Ministry of Housing on November 26, 2012, which invited the police and held watching brief during the nearly six-year trial.
In the course of the trial, however, Oseni changed his counsel four times before deciding to represent himself. Afterwards, he changed his plea to “guilty.”
He denied being a fraudster and claimed that the building contained eight apartments, not six, but that it was “not normal” for 133 people to live in eight apartments.
When Fadipe asked him why he obtained money from so many people, Oseni said: “As a developer, one must not reject money.”
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