The police at State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, have charged a landlord, Alhaji Ishola Salawudeen, who allegedly duped over 106 prospective tenants in Alapere, to court with fraud.
While in court Wednesday, he revealed for the first time that it will be difficult for the victims to get their money back because his accomplices who were involved in the scam got their share and ran away.
Salawudeen, who is the landlord of the building at 59, Oriola Street, Alapere, Ketu, in Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, allegedly duped the tenants under false pretence of renting the 13 mini-flat apartments to the tune of about N50 million.
After collecting the huge amount, he allegedly issued receipts to each of them and promised to hand over the keys to the unsuspecting victims. But they later discovered that they had been duped when they went for the keys to their new apartments.
The 46-year old Salawudeen is facing a 211-count charge of obtaining money under false pretence and stealing under the Criminal Code.
When the charges were read to him, he pleaded not guilty.
The prosecutor, Mr G. O. Osuji opposed his bail application by his counsel, Barrister Babatunde Adeyobi, on the ground that he may likely jump bail because of the weight of evidence before the court and that he is likely to be jailed if found guilty.
However, the presiding Magistrate, Mrs S. O. Solebo granted him bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in like sum.
He was remanded in prison custody at Ikoyi, Lagos and the matter was adjourned till 9 September, 2013.
Meanwhile, trouble started at the court premises when some of the victims started abusing his counsel, accusing him of collecting their money to defend the suspect.
This resulted in a brawl between some policemen attached to the court when a policeman attempted to arrest one of the victims.
The scam came to open when hundreds of tenants who were expecting to be given keys to their new apartments stormed the house in Ketu after they realized they had been duped.
The prospective tenants had paid millions of naira for the 13 mini-flat apartments and were asked to come for their keys at the newly built house.
However, rumours began to circulate that some tenants had been given keys and were already occupying all the apartments. Those who arrived the following day had to confront those already occupying the apartments, claiming they had also paid for the aprtments.
As dozens of people stormed the house in protest, the developer, the landlord and the agents all disappeared.
Salawudeen was later arrested by the police, while his accomplices are still on the run.