An Ebute-Meta Chief Magistrates’ Court has sentenced a property developer, Alhaji Ayobami Oseni, to 2,670 years imprisonment for defrauding 133 accommodation seekers of N25 million. Chief Magistrate O. O. Olatunji convicted Oseni after he pleaded guilty to 267 counts of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretences and stealing.
The convict was arraigned by the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) on December 7, 2012.
Chief Magistrate O. O. Olatunji convicted Oseni after he pleaded guilty to 267 counts of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretences and stealing.
He held that the offences contravened Sections 285, 312 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Oseni got 10 years imprisonment on each of the 267 counts without an option of fine.
The sentences, which are to run concurrently, take effect from April 26, last year when Oseni was remanded in prison custody after the revocation of his bail.
The convict will spend 10 years in jail out of which he has already done one year considering the time he has spent in custody.
He also forfeited his building to the Lagos State Government, which the court ordered to sell it, and share the proceeds among the 133 victims.
When his trial began on February 27, 2013, prosecuting counsel Abraham Fadipe, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), described him as the developer of a one-storey building at 3, Church Close, Ajao Estate, Lagos.
He said the building contained four mini-flats and two self-contained apartments.
According to Fadipe, Oseni posed as a landlord and erected vacancy signs around Ajao Estate while the building was under construction.
He obtained rents, agency and agreement fees ranging from N160,000 to N300,000 and totalling N25m from at least 133 accommodation seekers on the pretext that each of them would get an apartment in the building.
The prosecution called five witnesses, four of whom testified that when they arrived at the property to take possession, it was already occupied.
The prospective tenants petitioned the Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department (LASRETRAD), an arm of the Ministry of Housing on November 26, 2012. The ministry invited the police and held a watching brief during the nearly six-year trial.
In the course of the trial, Oseni changed his counsel four times before deciding to represent himself. He also changed his plea to “guilty.”
He denied being a fraudster, claiming that the building contained eight apartments, not six, but that it was “not normal” for 133 people to live in eight apartments.
When Fadipe asked him why he obtained money from so many people, Oseni said: “As a developer, one must not reject money.”
Before the sentence, Mr Olatunji asked Oseni for his allocution.
Oseni said: “Well, I plead for mercy from the court concerning the statement against me. I plead that the court should temper justice with mercy. I have learnt my lesson. I have been in detention for two years, 19 days. It will never occur again. I end my statement.”