Barristers & Solicitors
Police Arraign Property Agent, Others over Alleged N800m Fraud

The Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force yesterday arraigned before a Federal high Court in Lagos two property agents, Msheilia Julius Silas and Sabo Mohamed Jimeta, alleged to have swindled a businessman, Abubakar Baba Zango,  to the tune of N800 million.

The two defendants and a limited liability company, Jitau Investment Limited, were arraigned yesterday before the court presided over by Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

During their arraignment, the police prosecutor, Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), told the court that the defendants committed the alleged offence alongside Albert Atiwurcha, Nanda Ezekiel and J&J Holding Villa Limited (now at large).

Jackson, who is the officer in-charge of PSFU’s Legal Department, further informed the court that the defendants with an intent to defraud, conspired among themselves and fraudulently sold off a property located at No 3 Bunu Sheriff Crescent, Katempe Extension, Abuja, for the sum of N800 million.

The prosecutor stated that the said property belonged to one Abubakar Baba Zango.

He stated that following the sales of the

property, the defendants allegedly diverted the proceeds into two bank accounts in Union Bank Plc with account number 0041529275, belonging to Jitau Investment Limited, and Zenith Bank account number 1016265443, belonging to J and J Holding Villa Limited, different from the one nominated by the owner of the property, Abubakar Baba Zango.

The prosecutor submitted that the offences committed by the defendants, contravened Sections 1(3) and 1(i)(a) and of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006.

He further told the court that the offences contravened Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended in 2012.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the offences when the charge was read to them.

Following their plea, lawyers to the defendants, Kyari Joe Gadzama (SAN); Kole Bello, and J. W. Dong, told the court that their clients’ bail applications had been filed and served of the prosecution.

In moving the bail applications, Gadzama told the court that his client, Mshelia Julius Silas, was earlier admitted to administrative bail by the police and he came back to the police yesterday for his arraignment, contending that by the provisions of the Constitution, his client is entitled to bail.

He told the court that the case that brought his client to court was purely a civil contract between parties.

The lawyer, therefore, urged the court to admit his client to bail in the most liberal terms, if possible on self-recognition.

He assured the court that his client would always be in court till the determination of the case filed against him.

Also, Mr. Kole Bello, counsel to the second defendant, aligned himself with the SAN’s submissions.

Opposing the bail applications, the prosecutor, Jackson, told the court that it was true that the defendants were granted administrative bail, but added that the police went after those that stood as sureties for the first defendant before he was forced to come to court for arraignment.

He told the court to discountenance the arguments of the defence counsel that the matter was purely a civil one, stating that the defendants will not turn up for their trial if admitted to bail.

He consequently asked the court not to grant the bail applications.

Delivering ruling on the bail application, Justice Oweibo acceded to the request of the defence lawyers, and admitted each of the defendants to bail in the sum of N500 million each with one surety in like sum.

The Judge ordered that the surety must be a property owner within Lagos and that the property must worth the bail sum, adding that the surety must provide evidence of tax payment for three years.

Justice Oweibo, while adjourning the matter till June 21 for trial, ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the SFU till the perfection of the bail terms.

THISDAY