Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court has sentenced a Badagry Prince, Semasa James to three years imprisonment for uttering documents to administer the estate of his father, late Oba Afolabi James of Kweme land, Badagry.
The court however gave the prince an option of fine in the sum of N450,000.
Semasa was charged alongside his personal assistant Afolabi Kazeem before Justice Taiwo.
He is accused of defrauding his 26 siblings of N500million inheritance while administering the estate of the deceased king.
Prince Semasa faced a seven-count charge of forgery, uttering of false document and fraudulent disposal of trust property proffered against him by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force.
Kazeem, his personal assistant faced a charge of receiving stolen property.
Justice Taiwo in her judgment found Semasa not guilty of the charges of forgery and fraudulent disposal of trust property noting that the prosecution failed to proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The trial judge however found the first defendant guilty of three-counts of uttering of a false documents.
She convicted and sentenced him to one year in prison on each count which is to run concurrently or an option of N450,000 fine.
She said: “Based on the oral and documentary evidence, I find that the prosecution failed to prove the three-counts of stealing beyond reasonable doubt.”
The court however absolved the prince of the offence bordering on fraudulent disposal of trust property.
The court also declared the second defendant, Kazeem, not guilty of receiving stolen property.
Justice Taiwo held that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that N2million was stolen and that he received same knowing it was stolen.
“The first defendant is hereby sentenced to one-year imprisonment or N450,000 fine.”
Prior to convicting and sentencing the first defendant, the judge had said that the case could have been resolved amicably in the family without the warring princes and princesses resorting to litigation.
“It is unfortunate that such a problem cannot be resolved amicably, instead of washing of the family their dirty linen in public.
“One wonders what legacy the elders in the family are leaving behind for the younger ones.
“It is suggested by the court that the family wipes clean the slate and start afresh,” she said
The court however suggested that avoid future strife, the family should appoint more administrators to administer the estate of late Oba Afolabi James.
Justice Taiwo said that the administrators should be transparent to the beneficiaries of the estate and a neutral body should also manage the account of the estate and open fresh books and records to avoid mismanagement funds.
In his allocutus, the defence counsel, Martins Oyigbo asked the court to temper justice with mercy.
“He is a first time offender my lord and he had no intention of defrauding the family.
“My lord should please give an option of fine as the family will take the advice of the court and resolve the matter amicably,” Oyigbo said.
During the trial, the 12 witnesses testified for the prosecution while six witnesses testified for the defence.
According to the SFU prosecutor, Mr Oluwafemi Olabisi, Semasa had fraudulently converted N500 million property belonging to the late king, between 2000 and 2017 in Lagos.
The prosecution alleged that Semasa fraudulently sold a property located at Plot 1440, Ilesanmi St., Itire Road, Surulere, Lagos to a private individual.
He was accused of illegally leasing another property located Plot 282 Ajose Adeogun St., Victoria Island, Lagos to Ecobank Plc.
Semasa also allegedly forged some purchase receipts of his late fathers property as well as the signature of the late king on the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of CAJ Industrial Enterprises.
Also, the SFU said that Kazeems had allegedly received stolen estate funds from the first defendant.
Kazeem is alleged to have connived with Semasa to defraud the beneficiaries of the late kings estate of N150 million, which was part of the proceeds of sale of a property located at Dideolu Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos.
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