An Igbosere High Court has fixed April 1 to deliver judgment in a case of forgery, forcible entry and criminal damage to a N45 million property against Ms Olaide Ibraheem, a Director in the Lagos State Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the criminal action followed a dispute between Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyitolu, Director-General of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and his former lover, Ibraheem.
Ibraheem, the defendant in the criminal suit, is the Director, Administration and Human Resources, Lagos State Office of Civic Engagement.
She was arraigned on May 22, 2017, on a three-count charge of forgery, forcible entry and criminal damage to the property.
The property in dispute is located at No. 1, Baba Yusuf Close, Alausa, Lagos.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye fixed the judgment date after both the lead state prosecutor, Mr Akin George and defence counsel, Mr Gbenga Ojo, addressed the court after closing their cases.
Addressing the court, Ojo in his submission said that the prosecution did not prove its case against Ibraheem beyond reasonable doubt because vital witnesses were not summoned to testify in court.
Ojo noted that the prosecution did not summon the individual who prepared the deed that was allegedly forged by the defendant.
Responding, the prosecutor said “the law provides that the prosecution is not bound to call all witnesses listed, provided the prosecution has called credible witnesses that will sustain their case.”
George said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and that the court should not attach any credibility to the forensic report tendered in evidence by the defence
According to him, rather than summoning the individual who prepared the alleged forged Deed for the defendant, a forensic police report confirming the alleged forgery, which was tendered in court by the prosecution, was sufficient evidence.
NAN reports that during the trial, four witnesses including Oke-Osanyitolu, his personal assistant and a signature expert, testified for the prosecution.
Six witnesses including Ibraheem, a surveyor and a police officer testified on behalf of the defence.
Oke-Osanyitolu in his testimony told the court that he and the defendant were former lovers and top civil servants in the employ of the Lagos State Government.
He said that during the course of their relationship, he needed accommodation for his ailing mother and had sought Ibraheem’s help in getting accommodation.
Oke-Sanyitolu said the defendant negotiated the purchase of the property on his behalf for N45million from the former owner, one Baba Yusuf in Kano.
The LASEMA DG told the court that he had made payments in installments for the property via Mr Luqman Salami, his personal assistant, and paid a balance of N1. 5million the day the Deed of Assignment was signed.
“Five people including the defendant, were present when the Deed was signed but only four persons — myself, the owner of the property, Baba Yusuf; his son, Musa Yusuf and Salami, my personal assistant signed the document,”
Oke-Sanyitolu said that following the breakdown of their relationship, the defendant in order to unlawfully lay claim to the property, fraudulently made another Deed of Assignment and forged his signature on the fake document.
He said that Ibraheem, with the aid of hoodlums, also unlawfully broke into and took over possession of the property.
The LASEMA DG said that when he reported his ex-lover’s actions to the authorities, she threatened his life and boasted that she will show him “the power of a woman”.
Ibraheem, while testifying in her defence, said the property belonged to her.
She said when she wanted to buy the property, she visited the Baba Musa, the former owner of the property in Kano.
According to her, the original owner declined to sell to her due to religious reasons, and asked her to come with her spouse.
She said obliging the requests of Baba Musa, Oke-Sanyitolu had accompanied her to buy the property.
The defendant in her version of events said that four persons — herself, the owner of the property, his son and Oke-Sanyitolu signed the Deed of Assignment while Salami, Oke-Sanyitolu’s personal assistant was a witness.
She said after the end of their relationship, she got wind of the fact that Oke-Sanyitolu had procured another Deed of Assignment for the property.
The defendant said that the new Deed did not contain her signature and that Oke-Sanyitolu was trying to register the new Deed at the Lagos State Ministry of Lands.
Ibraheem denied illegally taking over the property from the complainant.
According to the prosecution, Ibraheem allegedly committed the offences in September 2015 at the disputed property located at No. 1, Baba Yusuf Close, Alausa, Lagos.
“On Sept. 21, 2015, the defendant forged a Deed of Assignment belonging to Dr Oke-Osanyitolu with the intent that it be acted upon as genuine.
“Sometime in May 2015, Ibraheem forcefully entered the property which was in actual and peaceful possession of the complainant (Oke-Osanyitolu).
“She damaged the structure on the land without the consent of Oke-Osanyitolu,” George said.
The offences, he said, contravened sections 52, 339 and 365 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015