“I’m guilty,” says army colonel who bags 7-year jail for land fraud
Justice F. N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on Wednesday sentenced one Eugene Okpala, a 62-year old retired colonel to seven years imprisonment in a case of conspiracy, and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N34.5million (thirty-four million, five hundred thousand naira) brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The matter, which was earlier slated for trial on Wednesday took a different turn when the convict decided to change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.
Mr. Okpala, allegedly in 2008, approached one Vincent Obetta of Igwurube Chambers and a member of Dominion City Church under the pretext of having large portion of land for sale at N40million (forty million naira).
The complainant, Dominium City Church, in need of a landed property to build their school, negotiated and eventually bought the land for N34.5million (thirty-four million, five hundred thousand naira).
The church also paid additional five percent of the sum, which is N1,750,000.00 (one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand naira) as agency fee to Igbwurube Chambers.
Consequently, in September 2010, the church started developing the land, but another lawyer came up to tell them that the land belonged to one Philip Asiodu.
Investigation was launched into the matter and the convict was found culpable and was arraigned.
During trial, the counsel to the EFCC, I. I. Mbachie tendered 13 exhibits which were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit C1-13.
Having changed his plea, the defence counsel, E. O. Isinu, prayed the court to “temper justice with mercy” saying, his client was a first time offender.
Justice Yunusa consequently sentenced Okpala to seven (7) years imprisonment on each count preferred against him.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
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