27th February, 2012
Operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, at Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos Island, Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, have arrested and arraigned a suspected court tout for freeing three suspected criminals from Ikoyi Prison.
The man identified as Fashola Oladele was arraigned before a Tinubu Magistrate’s Court on a three-count charge of felony to wit, forgery of reproduction warrants of Igbosere Magistrate’s Court 15 to release three suspected criminals who were standing trial for unlawful possession of fire arms.
Police investigation revealed that the bubble burst for the accused when he was arrested following the discovery by the magistrate in charge of Court 15 at Igbosere Magistrate’s Court that three suspects, namely Nuru Owolabi, Adigun Shoyinka and Gbenga Akinpelu, who were remanded in prison on the order of the magistrate for unlawful possession of firearms, were not coming to court from prison to attend court proceedings.
When the magistrate sought to know why the accused persons were not coming to court, the prosecutor allegedly told the magistrate that the accused had been released with documents bearing Lagos High Court and that he did not know anything about it.
Piqued by the development, the magistrate was said to have ordered the prosecutor to produce the said documents before her.
On careful scrutiny, the magistrate was said to have discovered that her signature and the court’s stamp had been perfectly forged to carry out the act.
She reportedly observed that her signature which is usually in capital letters was forged with smaller letters, while the court stamp which is blue was black on the documents.
She subsequently directed the prosecutor to produce the prison warder who received and signed the documents.
When the warder was confronted with the documents, he allegedly mentioned the name of Fashola Oladele as the person who presented the documents from Ikoyi Magistrate’s Court on behalf of the court. It was gathered that Oladele allegedly identified himself as a court official.
The magistrate directed the prison warder to produce the said Oladele before her.
When he was questioned about the documents, the court stamp and the illegal release of the suspects, he could not give any satisfactory answer.
He was arrested and handed over to the police for interrogation.
After investigation, he was charged to court for unlawful release of criminal suspects from prison with forged court documents.
The offences, according to the prosecutor Inspector Chidi Okoye, are punishable under Section 409, 363(3) and (u) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2004.
Count one reads: “That you Fashola Oladele and others (still at large) on 23 November 2011 at Lagos Magisterial District, did use fake reproduction warrant knowing same to be false to secure the release of Nuru Owolabi, Adigun Shoyinka and Gbenga Akinpelu who were in prison custody.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges but the prosecutor opposed the bail of the accused in view of the nature of offences committed.
He informed the magistrate that the offence committed by the accused is an affront to the judiciary, adding that the accused could be so audacious to forge the sacred documents of a court to release suspected criminals from prison.
She stated that there was the likelihood that if granted bail, he may jump bail and escape justice.
After listening, the presiding Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Adedayo ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody. She adjourned the matter till 12 March 2012 for mention.
Meanwhile, Lagosians who spoke with PMNEWS at the Igbosere Magistrate’s Court praised the magistrate for exposing evil. They urged others to emulate her so as to sanitise the judiciary of criminal-minded elements.