Court nullifies forgery charge against Tejuosho market developer

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Kazeem Ugbodaga

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A Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere has nullified a forgery case brought against Mr. Olaide Omotola, a Director of Stormberg Engineering Company Limited and the developer of Tejuosho Ultramodern Market.

The court, which was presided over by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, declared in its ruling that the Lagos State Government could not establish a prima facie case against the accused person.

The judge also declared that the accused person was not served with the charge or notified of the trial, indicating that there was nothing the prosecution could prove to move the matter further.

In the ruling, the judge identified discrepancies in the legal advice, which formed the basis of the prosecution, noting that, the statement of the petitioner was written March 2, 2012, while the petition itself was written on March 5 and approved March 7, 2012.

The judge noted that the petitioner had finished writing his statement “before his petition was approved,” thereby describing the entire process as a premeditated prosecution.

Omotola, a partner in the development of Tejuosho Ultramodern Market and leading equity contributor to the market, had been accused of forging signature to become a director in Stormberg Engineering Company Limited.

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He said he was accused of forgery when he discovered some discrepancies in the redevelopment of the market, which he said, compelled him to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to look into it his capacity as a director of the company.

Omotola added that when the EFCC was investigating the petition on the alleged discrepancies, his partner, Mr. Dolapo Atimo and some other people decided “to petition to Special Fraud Unit (SFU), claiming that he forged a signature “to become the director of the company.”

He explained that the bid was “to negate the petition that was already at EFCC so that it would have no stand.” On March 22, 2012, the SFU people came to his house and took him to SFU on the charge of forgery and that he stole N20 million from the account.

“After they investigated, they could not establish any prima facie case against me in the matter. My passport was seized and later returned back to me. In the course, we petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) that SFU was taking a biased position and the matter was transferred away from SFU.”

“But unknown to us, they had hurriedly gone to court on the matter which was unknown. When Mr. Dolapo Atimo died, as it was obvious that I had the controlling share of the company, they also wrote another petition to Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“The CAC called my attention to the request. I told them to write a letter so that we can see the petition and what the issues are. This was when we now knew that there was a secret trial going on at a Lagos High Court, Igbosere without our attention being called to it.”

On this ground, Omotola said he wrote the office of the Attorney General of Lagos State through his lawyer, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajanaku “for a review of the legal advice which was drawn and was never shown to him. In the course of legal review, they discovered discrepancies in the first legal advice.

“We went by way of preliminary objection to the court that this charge cannot stand as a result of the fact that, even looking at the statement of the complainant, it preceded the day the petition was approved. Approval of a petition should ordinarily precede any statement making by the petitioner,” he said.