Legal Nigeria

How we were falsely accused of N75m fraud by police, defendants say

By Joseph Onyekwere

Gavel PHOTO: iStock

The two defendants, Ezekwere Don and Mrs. Mopelola Domingos, arraigned before Tinubu Magistrate’s Court over alleged N75 million fraud have accused the police at the Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos of insincerity in their trial.

They alleged that the two-count charge filed against them was fabricated by the police, which should have been neutral and professional in carrying out its duties.

The defendants were arraigned before the court for allegedly obtaining the sum of N75 million from a complainant, Ifeoma Obi under the false pretence of selling five plots of land to her.

According to the charge, the defendants allegedly collected the money from the complainant with a promise to sell five plots of land to her in Ibeju-Lekki since July 2017 but the defendants failed to provide the land for the complainant to date and instead converted the money to their use.

However, the defendants stated that the complainant in the charge, Obi, does not exist, adding that it was a fictitious name allegedly invented by the police.

According to them, their arraignment was sequel to a petition over allegation of threat to life and malicious damage of property written to the command by a petitioner.

They accused the officer in charge of Anti-Crime Unit of Zone 2 of scheming to ensure that alleged petitioner acquires five plots of land which has been in dispute.

According to the second defendant, Domingos, while in police detention, she allegedly lost a three-month pregnancy over an offence she knew nothing about.

They denied collecting the money from Ifeoma, who they claimed they have never met before.

Speaking on the issue, their counsel, Chief Bolanle Olugbani said a similar charge filed by the police against a security guard, watching the property in dispute, Saka Sanni, was rejected for lack of evidence to prosecute.

He stated that when the attempt to charge the security guard failed, the police decided to charge Ezekwere Don and Mrs. Mopelola Domingos to court for insisting that the five plots of land were not sold to the petitioner.

Meanwhile, in a fundamental human rights suit filed before a Lagos High Court, the applicant is seeking a restraining order against the Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Lagos, over alleged harassment.

Other respondents in the suit are the Officers in Charge, Anti-Crime Unit, Zone 2, Mobile Police, and Alhaji Moruff Oyejide.

The applicant is also praying the court to restrain the respondents or their agents from further constituting a threat to her life or liberty either through arrest or by physical abuse.

The applicant is also seeking for an order of court restraining the Police from trailing her in any manner that may jeopardize her liberty.

Besides, she is praying the court for a declaration that the statutory duties of the Police do not cover or extend to intervention in land transactions willingly entered into by citizens.

In a 6-paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by one Abdullahi Mohammed, he stated that the applicant bought five plots of land measuring 4169.910 square meters at Okun Ajah in Eti-Osa Local government Area from Mr. Don Sunny Ezekwere, who obtained his title from the Ogidan family of Okun Ajah many years ago.

He stated that the Al-Maroof (5th respondent) has stationed officers of the Mopol 2 Mobile Police on the land to prevent the applicant from entering her land and to disturb her and her workers from developing the land in question except the applicant vacates.

He added that the respondents are seeking to deny her of rights to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria particularly her five plots of land at Okun Ajah Eti-Osu Local Government of Lagos State.

He stated that Al-Maroof, instead of taking legal steps to sue the applicant over a claim for title and ownership of the land sought to use the Police for land-grabbing.

He stated that based on the false petition written by Al-Maroof, the applicant was invited to the office of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police Zonal Command with a view to making her accept that the Al-Maroof is the owner of the land.

He added that the Al-Maroof continues to use the instrumentality of the Police to harass and threaten to detain the applicant unconstitutionally over a land matter that is contractual and not criminal in nature.

He stated that the applicant believes that the intention of the 1st to 5th respondents is to take her out of circulation by arresting and detaining her indefinitely unless she surrenders her five plots of land to the 5th respondent.

He added that the 5th respondent allegedly wrote a false petition based on an allegation of threat to Iife, malicious damage to property and criminal trespass, and other sundry allegations to cause the Police to carry out their official duty in a manner that is wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional against the applicant.