A pastor of a church in the Ayobo area of Lagos State, Gabriel Olakitan has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly defrauding a businessman of N3million. The 64-year-old suspect had sold a parcel of land in the area to the businessman and issued him a receipt to that effect.
The land was said to have been handed over to the pastor by one Bayo, who is based in London, to sell for N2.9m. After collecting N3m from Cornelius, the pastor only paid N1m into Bayo’s account.
Trouble started when Bayo came to Nigeria sometime in 2014 and reportedly stopped workers hired by Cornelius to clear weeds on the land for construction. The case was reported at the Area M Command, Idimu, where an agreement was said to have been reached that the pastor would repay Cornelius in installment, Punch reports.
However, he did not keep to the agreement, and was re-arrested on July 7, 2016, by the police from the Ayobo division.
Cornelius told the police that all efforts to claim the possession of the land or get his money back had been futile.
He said, "Gabriel (Olakitan) acted as an agent to Bayo. I paid him N3m for one and half plots of land in March 2013, but I was unable to take the possession of the land. I later discovered that he only remitted N1m into Bayo’s account. The case was reported to the police and all the parties were invited. But Bayo did not show up. We wanted to start clearing the weeds on the land when Bayo brought some policemen to stop us."
The pastor reportedly confessed to the fraud, saying he had spent part of the N3m to settle a land case in Ogun State.
"I am a pastor and a land agent. It is true I collected N3m for the land – N2.9m for the land and N100,000 to process the receipt. I only remitted N1m to the owner, Bayo, through his wife. I know what I did is wrong and is against the law. I will try my best to pay the remaining N1.9m to the owner of the land so that the buyer can take the possession," he added.
A police prosecutor, Inspector E. Ayomide, brought Olakitan before an Ogba Magistrate’s Court on two counts bordering on fraud.
The charge read, "That you, Gabriel Olakitan, sometime in March 2013, at about 10am on Ibidapo Street, Ipaja-Ayobo, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did unlawfully obtain the sum of N3m from one Oke Cornelius, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 312 (a) (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2011.
"That you, on the same date, time and place, in the aforementioned magisterial district, did fraudulently convert the sum to your personal use, property of one Oke Cornelius, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 278 (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2011."
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge before the presiding magistrate, Mrs. O.J. Awope.
The magistrate granted him bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum and adjourned the case till August 12, 2016.