By Abdulwahab Abdulah
A prince of Kweme Land of Badagry, Lagos, Semasa James, was yesterday re-arraigned before an Ikeja Special Offences Court for defrauding the estate of his late father Oba Afolabi James, leasing the property to a bank.
Semasa was initially arraigned on April 10 on a two-count charge of stealing and forgery.
He had denied the charges and trial had commenced with two witnesses testifying for the prosecution.
However, during the day’s proceedings, Semasa was re-arraigned alongside Afolabi Kazeem, whom the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police Force, alleges is an accomplice to the crimes
In the fresh charge, Semasa is charged with stealing, forging of company resolution, fraudulent disposing of trust property and forgery.
Kazeem and the prince are jointly charged with conspiracy to defraud and cheating.
The duo, however, pleaded not guilty to the seven-count charge.
According to Mr O. O Olabisi, the prosecutor for the SFU, the prince fraudulently converted N500million property belonging to the late king between 2000 and 2017 in Lagos.
“The defendant had 2011, forged the resolution of a company called CAJ Industrial Enterprises dated Nov. 28, 2011.
“He had purported that the resolution was signed by his father, who was one of the directors of the company meanwhile his father had died nine years earlier on Jan. 30, 2002.
“The defendant had forged the resolution with the intent that it will be acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of any person,” he said.
The prosecutor noted that Semasa had fraudulently sold a property belonging to his late father’s estate to a private individual and illegally leased another property to Ecobank Plc.,
The offences contravene sections 383(1), 383(2) (f), 390(9), 421,434, 465 and 467 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Following their plea, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo ordered that Semasa continues his previous administrative bail.
She, however, ordered that Kazeem be released to the custody of Mr Martin Oyigbo, his defence counsel, who must ensure that he attends his trial.
“I release him to your custody and you must write an undertaking to the effect that he will attend court proceedings.
“The second defendant will not be allowed to leave the court premises today until the undertaking is written,” she ordered.
Justice Taiwo adjourned the case until November 19 for trial.