The police in Ogun State yesterday arraigned an oil magnate, Chief Salimon Abiodun Ajayi, at a Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta for fraudulently obtaining the sum of N105 million from a company, Alarab Properties.
The company is a subsidiary of Obasanjo Holdings Limited (OHL), owned by a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Ajayi, the Balogun of Ijemo in Abeokuta South Council Area and owner of the popular Rantipe Petroleum, was charged to court on a three-count bordering on forgery, fraud and stealing.
The police prosecutor, Sunday Eigbejiale, said the accused fraudulently forged the Sidipon Community Power of Attorney and fraudulently used same to obtain N105 million from Alarab Properties. Eigbejiale told the court that the accused obtained the huge sum in the sales of 67 acres of land at the Sidipon village, along Abeokuta- Sagamu Expressway. The police prosecutor said the offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 419 revised law of Ogun State 2004.
The charge reads in part: “That you, Salimon Abiodun Ajayi, between 2007 and 2012, with intent to defraud, did obtain the sum of N105 million, property of Alarab Properties, a subsidiary of Obasanjo Holdings Limited, with the pretext that you are in position to sell 67 acres of land to Alarab Properties and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 419 of Ogun State 2004.”
Ajayi, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him. Moving motion for bail application, counsel to the accused, Akolade Afolabi, urged the court to admit his client to bail in line with constitutional provision, since the offence attracts no capital punishment.
Citing Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defence counsel argued that an accused is presumed innocent until proven contrary. He said the purpose of bail is to secure the presence of the accused in court to face trial and not to punish him.
He assured that Ajayi would not abuse the bail if granted. Ruling on the bail application, however, Chief Magistrate Oriyomi Sofowora admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N250,000 with two sureties in like sum.
The Magistrate thereafter adjourned the case till December 20, 2016. In another development, the House of Representatives, yesterday, raised the alarm over what it called, “the rising spate of land grabbing by foreign companies in the guise of investment in the country.”
The concern followed a motion under matters of urgent national importance by Hon. Sani Zorro (APC-Jigawa), which was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote.
Moving the motion, Zorro alleged that Messrs Lee Group, a Chinese company, plans to seize 15,000 hectares of farmland in Jigawa State. Zorro said that a lot of people had been displaced by foreign companies under the pretext of investing in Nigeria. “Disturbed by the landgrabbing activities of a Chinese company, Messrs Lee group, in many states in the North, the latest is its incursion into Jigawa State.
“The company’s ploy to forcefully acquire over 15,000 hectares of farmland, thereby dispossessing more than 10,000 peasant farmers in over 35 farming communities in Gagarawa Local Government of my constituency (of their land). “The company plans to grow sugar cane against the will of majority of the people who own farm lands
There is tension and threats of breakdown of law and order in the area, consequent upon the company’s audacity to proceed with an illegal compensation exercise since Tuesday, November 10 in spite of a lawsuit and stiff resistance by owners of the farmlands.
“We cannot build our nation if we continue to elevate the citizens of other nations above our own citizens,” Zorro said. The lawmaker said that as public office holders, they had the duty to protect lives and property of the country’s citizens.
He, therefore, urged the authorities and the Jigawa State Government to resist any intent of dispossessing Nigerian citizens of their land and resources. Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the motion to the House Committee on Judiciary for further legislative advice.
Source: New Telegraph