Court strikes out N80m land theft suit, freezes order on Monan estate
A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has struck out an N80m land theft charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against businesswoman, Mrs. Moji Yakubu and nine other persons.
EFCC charged Yakubu alongside her company, Monan Trading Company Limited and eight others for alleged stealing 10 hectares of land at Sagotedo, Lekki, which belongs to one Jokotade Estate Resources Limited.
Other defendants are Chief Muka Bajulaiye, Alhaja Ajimot Adisa, Alani Shirawu, Bajulaiye Hakeem, Akeem Giwa, Rachael Tokede, Adelaja Raji and Nuniru Mushafau.
They pleaded not guilty to the 11-count charge bordering on forgery and theft preferred against them and was granted bail.
The first defendant (Yakubu) counsel, Yemi Adeshina filed an application before the court seeking an order to quash the charges on the ground that they were incompetent.
Adeshina averred that the charge against his client was an abuse of court process, as his client has not committed any crime known to law.
In its response to the application, the EFCC insisted that there is sufficient evidence for the defendants to stand trial.
However, while ruling on the application, Justice Ipaye held the submissions of the defense and struck out the 11 count charges against all the defendants.
Justice Ipaye held that from the prove of evidence, the EFCC failed to established a prima facie case against all the defendants.
She stated that while it was not in dispute that the 1st defendant and her company purchased the said 10 hectares of land, the EFCC failed to provide prove that the transaction was an act of crime triable under the criminal law.
“The defense counsel had exhibited a petition against one Sade Ogundare challenging her power of attorney over a large parcel of land from which the 10 hectares of land was sold.
“ From the quick perusal of the proof of evidence filed before me by the EFCC, my deduction is that there has been at best a controversial sales of land by some persons who belong to the family that owns the land. This, I believe is an issue that falls within the jurisdiction of civil dispute.
“ From the proof of evidence before me, the prosecution has failed to prove that there is sufficient ground for the trial to continue. The application filed by the 1st and 2nd defendants succeeds and the amended information dated March 14, 2016 is hereby quashed.”
Earlier before ruling, Justice Ipaye had lambasted the EFCC prosecution team led by Babatunde Sonaiki for fraudulent obtaining a temporary forfeiture order from another Lagos High Court judge sealing the Monan Garden Estate development project, which was ongoing at the disputed 10 hectares land.
She therefore ordered that the freeze order placed on the Monan Trading bank account be lifted as it was done without following due process.
The judge wondered why the EFCC would secure such an order from another court while the matter is still before her, threatened to file a formal complaint against Mr. Sonaiki before the appropriate disciplinary authority.