At last,a Lagos Magistrate Court ,sitting in Ogba before Honourable L A Owolabi has discharged and acquited popular Ikorodu estate agent ,Chief Kamorudeen Lamina popularly known as Sir K and five others of land grabbing allegations against them by the Lagos State Government
The Ikorodu estate agent, who was listed as the 1st defendant in a case between the Attorney General of Lagos State and nine defendants were initially arraigned on the 16th of June 2017 for alleged land grabbing ,, forceful taking over of 600 plots of land in Mowo Kekere in Ikorodu and impersonation.
Three of the defendants died in the course of the litigation ,forcing the Lagos State Governmenr to amend the charge to reflect the changes on the 4th of March 2021 .
The Magistrate ,while delivering the judgement ruled that ” in all I dismiss all the counts in the charge in their entirety” hinging his judgment on lack of diligence investigations from the prosecution and the police before charging Sir K and others before him .
Hon Owolabi also said that he had to dismiss the charges against the defendants based on the fact that the complaint admitted that the actions of the defendants took place in year 2006 ,ten years before the enactment of the Anti Land Grabbing Law
He also faulted the police Investigating Police Officer (,IPO) for taking the statements of the defendants, a day before that of the complaint.
The Magistrate in his judgement said ” Under cross examination,Mr Ibrahim ( complainant) admitted that everything regarding this land took place in 2006 .Evidence extracted from a witness under cross examination is very germane and helpful .”
” Thus on the admission by Mr Ibrahim under cross examination,all the events of the defendants in this charge took place in 2006 ,ten years before the enactment of this law.”
The Magistrate also stated that ” I now come to the evidence of Inspector Afusat Jimoh ,the second witness for the prosecution. The second witness gave evidence of her duty as the IPO in this charge .”
” She admitted that she took the staments of the complaints and the defendants .A cursory perusal of the statement,which was confirmed by the said witness ,shows that the statement of the defendants were taken on 14/6/17 and that of the complainant was taken on 15/6/17 .What is the implication of this ”
The Magistrate explained that “My finding regarding this is that as at the time the defendants made their statements to the police ,there was no complaint against them by anybody or any allegation to warrant their making any statement .”
” There was no justification by the police to warrant the taking of the statement as at the time they took same .I shall not place probative value on exhibits A22 and A30 because the complainant made his statement after the defendants had made theirs ,which is abnormal and he could have been influenced by the prior statements of the defendants.”
Hon Owolabi also stated that “With due respect ,the detention and taking of the statements of the defendants was a gross violation of the rights of the defendants by the police officers ,attached to the Task Force ,Oshodi .Their actions were a breach of the normal course of event and actionable at the instance of the defendants .I need to say more .”
The Magistrate further said “That is not all . Inspector Jimoh admitted that she did not investigate the allegations of the complainant and the defendants before the matter was charged to court ”
“In the course of her testimony and under cross examination by counsel to the 1st defendant ,she admitted that she did not investigate the allegations of the complainant and neither did she investigate the statement of the defendant. Thus , she did not visit the scene of the crime .She did not retrieve any exhibits from the first defendant and or of the defendants linking them to the offence in the charge.”
The Magistrate also continued that ” She did not equally tender any material to link the 1st defendant and any other defendant to the alleged offences She equally did not state any finding in the course of her testimony to assist the court in arriving at any decision on this charge .”
” I hold that officer Jimoh is a credible and truthful witness because she stated the truth before this court .However ,her truth has damaged the entire case of the prosecutor and further dented the evidence ,given by Mr Ibrahim.Thus by no carrying out any investigations in this case .She has raised a lot of doubts regarding this issue im favour of the 1st defendant