Ex-court registrar jailed 10 years for fraud
JUSTICE Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday sentenced former court registrar, Mrs. Rotimi Idowu Rosulu to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly defrauding Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd) to the tune of $330,000.
The presiding judge, while delivering judgement yesterday found the defendant guilty of two-count charges of obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy to defraud, brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Lawal-Akapo held that the evidence of the prosecution is overwhelming and that the prosecutions have been able to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
“I found out that the defendant visited ‘kirikiri prison on 23 October, 6 November and 20 November 2014. The prosecution called six witnesses and tendered 10 exhibits to prove the case. Also, the defendant can be convicted based on a confessional statement and circumstantial evidence.”
Justice Lawal-Akapo further held the testimony given by Bamaiyi. He said that, ‘Bamaiyi’s testimony was that the defendant collected the money was neither challenged nor contradicted.’
“I have read thoroughly the final written address of the prosecution and of the defense counsel, have also studied the case file on the issues submitted by both parties. I hereby found out the conspiracy to defraud against the defendant.”
He posited that as a court registrar, “the defendant suppose to be an image maker but she has decided to do contrary. I, therefore sentence the defendant to 10 years imprisonment on each count,” the judge held.
It would be recalled that Rosulu was a registrar in court while EFCC had alleged that a Lagos socialite Fred Ajudua defrauded Bamaiyi while both were in detention in Kirikiri prisons for different offences.
Rosulu was charged for conspired with Ajudua to defraud Bamaiyi on November 2004 and June 2005. She was charged alongside Ajudua before their trial was separated.
Rosulu, who stated her carrier as a court registrar about 34 years ago, was arraigned on a two-count charge of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretece, obtaining money by false pretence and she pleaded not guilty.
Part of the charge read: “Rosulu Idowu Oluronke, Fred Chijindu Ajudua, Alumile Adedeji a.k.a. Ade Bendel (still at large), one Mr. Jonathan (still at large), one Mr. Kenneth (still at large), Princess Hamabon William (still at large) and others still at large, on November 20, 2004, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $330,000 from retired Lieutenant General Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi, by falsely claiming to Bamaiyi that the $330,000 was part payment for professional fees charged by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to handle Bamaiyi’s case in court and to facilitate his (Bamaiyi) release from prison custody.”
The anti-graft agency said the offence contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Act No. 62 of 1999.
However, prior to the sentencing, defendant counsel, Mr. Bamidele Ogundele urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
His word, “My Lord, my client is a first-time offender without any criminal record and she has four children as dependants. The society will not gain if her four children are abandoned without motherly care.
“She has been on suspension from the judiciary for over a year and she is retiring next year after 34 years of active service in the judiciary,”
The EFCC counsel, E. Iheanacho therefore urhged the court to receive the maximum sentence.
He said that “the crime for which the defendant is being charged carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years imprisonment. In the circumstance we urged the court to sentence her accordingly.”
At trial, the prosecution called witnesses among which are two forensic experts testified that Rosolu had failed a polygraph test.
Bamaiyi had also testified that Rosolu came to the prison during the period to help Ajudua funnel the funds and the money was taken away in a Ghana must go bag.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that Ajudua had made a false representation to Bamaiyi that the $330,000 was the professional fees for the law firm of Afe Babalola and Co. to facilitate his (Bamaiyi’s) release from prison, a claim which the firm had since denied.
In her defense, Rosulu denied visiting Kirikiri. She told court while testifying that she never met both Ajudua and Bamaiyi.
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