An 80-year-old man, Zacheus Abati, has been brought before a Lagos State magistrates’ court sitting in Ogba for allegedly defrauding a cleric, Omobola Adeosun, of N2.6m.
Abati was arraigned alongside his nephew, Michael Oni, 55, and one Nojeem Adeokun, 61, on four counts of fraud and issuing of dud cheque.It was learnt that Adeosun bought a parcel of land for N4m at Igbo Esisi community, Amikanle area of Lagos, from Abati in December 2017.
She was said to have paid N2.6m to Abati in four installments and was issued receipts.
While Oni was involved in writing the receipts, Adeokun reportedly witnessed the sale of the land.
Trouble started when the woman wanted to start work on the land in 2018 and discovered that it had been sold to someone else.
She reportedly requested a refund and Abati issued her a cheque which was dishonoured on presentation at the bank on the grounds of insufficient funds in the account on which the cheque was drawn.
Our correspondent learnt that Adeosun reported the case at the Alagbado Police Division when he could no longer locate Abati. Abati and the two other accomplices were consequently arrested on February 26.
Adeosun said, “On December 22, 2017, one Olas took me to Mr Abati to buy a plot of land. Mr Abati took me to Igbo Esisi and showed me a plot of land. He told me the land cost N4, 225,000 and I pleaded to pay N4m which he agreed.
“I asked to see someone who can testify that the land belongs to him and he called Mr Nojeem Adeokun who assured me the deal was genuine. I paid N2.6m in installments and he (Abati) gave me receipts. After paying N2.6m, I requested that I wanted to take possession of the land. He told me I cannot do anything on the land. He said a lawyer wanted me to give them some weeks to get execution of judgment on the land. I was later told by one Mr Oladejo who was introduced to me by Nojeem, that Abati had no right to sell the land and that the land had been sold to someone else.
“Mr Oladejo said Abati did not give the money he collected from me to the rightful owner of the land. Abati gave me a First Bank cheque but when I tendered it at the bank, I was told he has no money in the account.”
Abati in his statement admitted to have collected money from Adeosun but claimed he did not sell the land to another person.
“I have known the complainant since 2017. I sold the land to her for N4m and she paid N2.6m in four instalments. She later came to me that she was no longer interested in the land because hoodlums used to disturb her on the land.
“Nojeem is one of the omooniles and I was the one who introduced him to the woman. It was my nephew, Oni Michael, who helped me to write receipts for her,” he added.
A police prosecutor, Inspector Adeleye Oluwafemi, brought the three suspects before the court on three counts of fraud while Abati was also charged with issuing of dud cheque.
The charges read in part, “That you, Zaheus Abati, Oni Michael and Nojeem Adeokun, between December 22, 2017 and March 26, 2018, on Samuel Adelemo Way, Surulere, Amikanle, Alagbado, Lagos, in the Ikeja Magisterial District, did fraudulently obtain the sum of N2.6m from one Omobola Adeosun, on the pretext of selling a plot of land to her at Igbo Esisi Community, Amikanle, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 314 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2015
“That you, Zacheus Abati, on January 31, 2019, at 9am, did issue cheque number 43599601, drawn on First Bank Account Number 2009722312 in the name Zacheus Abati to Omobola Adeosun, in the sum of N2.6m, knowing full well that the account has no funds, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 320 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2015.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty before the presiding magistrate, Mr W.A. Salami who granted them bail in the sum of N300, 000 with two sureties in the like sum.
The magistrate added that the sureties must be blood relations of the defendants and gainfully employed. The case was adjourned till April 7, 2020.