20 June 2011

Nigeria: Estate Agent in Plea-Bargain to Pay 200 Fraud Victims N49 Million

Lagos — A Lagos-based estate agent, Bayo Lawal, accused of defrauding about 200 intending tenants of over N49 million on Monday agreed before Justice Habeeb Abiru of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, to repay the victims by selling some of his property.

Lawal is standing trial alongside another man, Femi Johnson, on a 119-count charge bothering on conspiracy and fraud.

They duo were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of defrauding the intending tenants between 2005 and 2008 under the pretext of securing accommodation for them.

When the matter came up for trial on Monday, Lawal's lawyer, A.D. Lasisi, told the court that his client had entered a plea bargain agreement with the anti-graft agency.

Lasisi said the estate agent, in accordance with the plea bargain, had granted the EFCC power of attorney to auction or sell the property to any interested buyer and use the proceeds to restitute the victims.

The said properties are located at 5 and 55, Olaiya Street, Mafoluku, Oshodi; 14, Orobiyi Street, Oshodi; 15, Sokunbi Street, Mushin; and 20, Ogunkoya Street, Oshodi, all in Lagos.

EFCC counsel, Anselem Ozioko, said the agreement was favourable to the victims who have been clamouring for repayment of their money.

Some of the victims who had besieged the court's premises expressed their joy that justice was going to be done at last.

Two of the victims, Olayode Babatunde and Lukman Balogun, said the sales should be done as soon as possible so that they can recover their money.

The two accused persons are facing four separate trials before Justices Habeeeb Abiru and Jumoke Pedro and are presently being remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons.

The EFCC alleged that their offence contravenes Sections 390 (9), 419 and 467 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C17, Vol. 2, Laws of Lagos State 2003, and Section 3(1) of the Advance Fee and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

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