Justice Sherifat Sonaike of the Lagos High Court has adjourned to April 29 the arraignment of two lawyers, Ademola Owolabi, the managing partner of Ademola Adetokunbo & Co., and Adebayo Akeju, a partner in a law firm called Adon Partners, Lagos, as well as a real estate developer, Alex Ochonogor.

Ochonogor is the owner and managing director of Bluecrest Homes Limited where Owolabi is also the company secretary. The adjournment followed the absence of the suspects and their counsel in court on Monday, when the matter first came before justice Sonaike.

The suspects are facing a five-count charge of conspiracy to commit forgery, forgery, and willful damage to property pressed against them by the Lagos State government in suit marked LD/23611C/2024.

When the matter was called on Monday, the Director of Public Prosecution at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Dr. Babajide Martins told the court that Akeju has been served with the charge, adding that the other two are evading service.

He said: “I know that they are aware of the matter today because they are sending emissaries to me. I will ask for adjournment. If they refuse to come at the next adjourned date, we will apply for substituted service,” Martins told the court, while pleading for an adjournment.

The trial judge consented to the plea and adjourned the matter to April 29 for arraignment.

Count one of the charge reads: “Conspiracy to commit a felony to wit: Forgery contrary to Section 411 of the Criminal Law,Ch.C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

“Particulars of offence: Ademola Owolabi (M), Adebayo Akeju (M), Alex Ochonogor (M) and others (now at large) sometimes in year 2015 at B604, Safe court Apartments, Ikate, Lekki, Lagos State in the Lagos Judicial Division conspired among yourselves to commit a felony to wit: Forgery.”

In count 2, they were charged with forgery contrary to Section 365 (1) of the Criminal Law, Ch. C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

The charge reads: “Ademola Owolabi (M), Adebayo Akeju (M), Alex Ochonogor (M) and others (now at large) sometimes in year 2015 at B604, Safe court Apartments, Ikate, Lekki, Lagos State in the Lagos Judicial Division with intent that it be acted upon as genuine did forge an affidavit of loss of certificate of occupancy purportedly sworn at the Registry of Ministry of Justice, Alausa, Lagos State on 23rd day of September, 2014 to falsely indicate that the original of Certificate of Occupancy Number 36/36/1994W issued to one Hamza Al- Mustapha got missing.”

Also, contrary to Section 365 (1) of the Criminal Law, Ch.C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, the suspects were accused of forging a Demolition Notice Number 0000025 titled “Audit of Illegal structures within Government Schemes Acquisition and Revocation Areas” purportedly issued by the Governor’s Office, Lands Bureau, Directorate of Land Regularisation, Secretariat, Alausa with the intent for it to be acted upon.

They were also accused of procuring a forged Memorandum of Loss of Certificate of Occupancy purportedly dated September 25, 2014 to falsely indicate that original of Certificate of Occupancy Number 36/36/1994W issued to one Hamza Al-Mustapha Certificate got missing as well as willfully and unlawfully destroying a bungalow located on Plot 10, Block 133, Lekki Peninsular Residential Scheme 1, Lagos State, property of one Dr. Obidigwe Eze, who resides abroad.

Owolabi and Akeju were alleged to have aided Ochonogor, a businessman, in dispossessing one Dr. Eze of his property known as Plot 10, Block 133, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme 1, Lagos State.

USP Communications Limited sold the land to Dr. Eze in May 12, 2005, where he erected a bungalow and has been in peaceful possession.

Upon alleged invasion of the property by the accused persons, the Police waded in and investigated the root of their title.

The investigation revealed that Owolabi and Akeju had allegedly forged series of documents to establish that the property still belonged to Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, who was the original allottee, but had since sold the property in 2002 to Continental Properties, who in turn sold it to USP Communications.

Relying on the premise of alleged missing title documents to the land, Akeju allegedly approached Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, while still in prison, on the basis of assisting him in facilitating the sale of the property to Ochonogor, who had indicated interest in purchasing the land and allegedly provided funding for all the false documentation, forgeries and demolition of Eze’s home.

Al-Mustapha reportedly informed Akeju that he had sold a property in that location, instructing him to confirm from his lawyer, Abdulfatai Thomas to ensure that the property is not the same that he had sold. The suspect allegedly did not contact Thomas as instructed. He instead allegedly proceeded to concoct documents, demolished Eze’s home and sold the land to Ochonogor, who immediately began construction against a court injunction to stop work.

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