How Land With Forged C of O Was Acquired--Witness

 Asuquo Ibong, first prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a legal practitioner, Kole Bello, and three others who allegedly forged a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) of a land, has told the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere role he played in acquisition of the property.

Bello was arraigned alongside  Chukwu Victor, Friday Palmer and Osumah Terry on October 30, by the Lagos State Government  on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

They were alleged to have committed the offences sometime in December 2001, at Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, Lagos, according to the charge, the defendants allegedly conspired among themselves and forged a C of O with reference no. 63/63/1989, dated Sept. 28,1989, “with the intent that it may be acted upon as genuine.”

The  defendants allegedly forged C of O  in order to take over a plot of land which is the Estate of late Mrs Francisca Awolaja, and also arranged for someone to impersonate the late Awolaja in other to fraudulently convey her land to one Mr Rotimi Olubeko for the sum of N5 million.

The offences contravened Sections 422, 423 and 467 of the Criminal Law, Cap. C17 Vol.2, Law of Lagos State, 2003 but they pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The witness, Ibong who is also a lawyer, told the court that it was one Rotimi Olubeko who contacted him to prepare Deed of Assignment for the property in question.
He said Olubeko who was introduced to him by a friend in 2001 , brief him on the property  and him to draft the Deed of Assignment

"When I was giving the brief, I asked Olubeko whether he has conducted search on the property, said yes he did, I also asked other necessary questions but he said I should draft the Deed of Assignment, he supplied all necessary things needed for the drafting which includes the C of O and purchasing price.

"After Olubeko acquired the land, he also brief me to help him apply for Governor Consent for the property,  paid me N75, 000  and I started the process but later have misunderstanding with him, I debrief myself and return his money with the document of the property", he said.

The witness said it was in 2008 that he knew that the C of O of the land brought to him by Olubeko was a forged one., I knew when I was invited at the Zone 2 police station, Special Fraud Unit and Police Headquarters annex, Alagbohon.

In the statements Olubeko made to the police then, he wrote that I was the one who conducted search on the property but I refuted his claim in my statements and also detailed my involvment on the transaction that led to acquisition of the property.
Under cross examination, Ibong revealed that it was at the police station that he also knew that it was Bello who sold the property to Olubeko.

Justice  Oluwatoyin Taiwo has adjourned further hearing in the matter till December 20.

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