Semasa James, the prince of Kweme Land of Badagry, Lagos has been re-arraigned at an Ikeja Special Offences Court for defrauding the estate of his late father Oba Afolabi James and leasing the late king’s property to Ecobank Plc.
Semasa was initially arraigned on April 10 on a two-count charge of of stealing and forgery. He had denied the charges and trial had commenced with two witnesses testifying for the prosecution.
However, during Monday’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.
While Kazeem and the prince are jointly charged with conspiracy to defraud and cheating.
The duo, however, plead 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.
“On about November 2004, with intent to defraud, Semasa converted the property located at Plot 1440, Ilesanmi St., Itire Road, Surulere belonging to the estate of his late father by selling the property to Mrs Saidat Taiwo without approval.
“On about July 2005 in Lagos, he fraudulently converted the property at Plot 282 Ajose Adeogun St., Victoria Island, Lagos by leasing it to the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc now Ecobank Plc,” the prosecutor said.
Olabisi also revealed Kazeem’s alleged role as an accomplice in defrauding the late king’s estate.
“Sometime in 2017 in Lagos, Semasa and Kazeem fraudulently tricked and cheated the beneficiaries of the late king of N150 million which was part of the proceeds of sale of a property located at Dideolu Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos,” he said.
The prosecutor noted that Semasa had also forged a purchase receipt dated Nov. 15, 2004 and an undated deed of assignment between himself, Bolarinwa James, Mrs Alakija (nee James), Hon. Justice Adebayo Adeniji and Mrs Saidat Taiwo.
Semasa according to the prosecution, had purported that the receipt of payment and deed of assignment were signed by Bolarinwa James, Mrs Alakija (nee James) and Hon. Justice Adebayo Adeniji with the intent that it will be acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of other persons.
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 court proceedings.
“I release him into 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 said.
Justice Taiwo adjourned the case until Nov. 19 for trial.