By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Justice Mojisola Dada has remanded in prison, an ex-convict and business man, Emmanuel Nwude who was charged alongside two lawyers-Emmanuel Ilechukwu and Roland Kalu, accused of forging legal documents for a property earlier forfeited to victims of a crime through judgment.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, charged the lawyers, Ilechukwu and Kalu, who were called to bar 29-years ago and Nwude on a 15-count charge of conspiracy, forgery, making documents without authority, dealing with forfeited property without authorization and transfer of forfeited property to nominees.
Other charges include; making false statement to a public officer, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, attempt to pervert the course of justice, fabricating evidence, giving false evidence under oath and giving false information to the EFCC.
The accused persons have pleaded not guilty of the charges.
According to EFCC, the defendants committed the fraud on a property which had been ordered to be forfeited in a High Court judgment given in 2005 by Justice Joseph Oyewole.
Justice Oyewole had in the judgment ordered that the property be forfeited to victims of a crime perpetuated by Nwude, the first defendant.
He said “On Jan. 12, 2011, the defendants forged a power of attorney issued in the name of Mankris Ventures Ltd purporting that Mankris Venture is the owner of the property located at Plot Y, Mobolaji Johnson St., Oregun, Alausa, Lagos.
“They did this with the full knowledge that the property was forfeited as restitution to victims of a crime in a judgment given on Nov. 18, 2005 by Justice Joseph Oyewole in Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Emmanuel Nwude and six others with suit number ID/92c/04.
“The victims had subsequently sold the property to Rossab Industrial Design Ltd and the company had assigned the property to G.C Nweze and Company Ltd.
“The forged power of attorney was issued to Kalu and ownership transferred to him in order to sell and dispose of the property.
“On Aug. 22, 2014 the defendants instigated a team of police officers from PSFU, Force Headquarters, Abuja, to forcefully take over ownership of the property by giving them false information about the true state of affairs of the property.
“On Oct. 15, 2014, the defendants also gave false information about the property to another team of policemen from Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Adeniji Adele, Lagos.
“The policemen from SARS took over and invaded the property because they were made to believe that they were acting on the orders of Mankris Ltd. ”
Omewa noted that the defendants had also instituted two lawsuits over the property in the High Court and Magistrate Court.
“On July 16, 2012 the defendants instituted a lawsuit in the Ikeja Magistrates’ Court with suit number MIK/3125/2012 and misled the Magistrate Court to give judgment in their favour.
“On March 18, 2014 the defendants filed a lawsuit at the Ikeja High Court against Rossab Industrial Design Ltd and the Registrar of Titles Lagos falsely claiming that Mankris Venture Ltd was the owner of the property,” he said.
The EFCC prosecutor said the defendants also forged some legal documents which include a statutory notice to quit the property and a statutory notice of owners intention to recover possession of the property.
“The defendants also gave false information to the EFCC on Oct. 21, 2016 in a petition written to the anti-graft agency about the property,” he said.
Mr Ladi Williams (SAN), the defence counsel to Ilechukwu and Kanu asked the court to grant the lawyers bail on self recognisance.
“It is pertinent to show Your Lordship that the second and third defendant are lawyers with 29-years experience each at the Bar.
“They have in that time practiced as legal practitioners without blemish, I will like to crave Your Lordships indulgence to release them on self recognisance and that they forfeit their call to bar certificate to the court as part of their bail conditions,” he said.
Mr Stephen Amallagoge, the defence counsel to Nwude told the court that the EFCC was yet to respond to the bail summons had recently filed for the first defendant on March 1.
Justice Mojisola Dada in a ruling granted bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties in like sum for the lawyers and ordered the remand of Nwude in prison custody.
Justice Dada adjourned the case till March 6 for hearing.