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‘Fraudulent land acquisition’ Court convicts former Reps member, Chuma Nzeribe, of impersonation, forgery

Crime

‘Fraudulent land acquisition’ Court convicts former Reps member, Chuma Nzeribe, of impersonation, forgery

A former member of the House of Representatives, Chuma Nzeribe has been convicted of possession of false documents, impersonation and cheating.

Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday found him guilty of a four-count charge proffered against him by the Federal Government.

The FG accused Nzeribe of being in possession of Federal Government documents of which he used to fraudulently acquire land at Maitama District of Abuja.

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Mr Nzeribe, who was absent in court today, allegedly committed the offences in 2005, 2007 and 2013.

In 2013, the alleged defendant had a document in his possession which contained false pretence with reference number MFCT/LA/FCT 1302, dated June 18, 2003, bearing the name of Ramatu Alhassan and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 6, 8(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

He was accused of using the alleged document as genuine, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 366 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) and punishable under Section 364 of the same Act.

When he was first arraigned, he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

When the matter was called up today, A. A. Maryam the prosecuting counsel prayed the court to deliver judgement in line with the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

She told the court that it was the choice of the defendant to be absent in court despite being served with a hearing notice.

Ms Maryam also sought the court to make an order against the defendant for misconduct as he was absent on the last adjourned date.

Nzeribe’s Counsel opposed the prayer of the prosecution, he argued that judgement cannot be delivered in the absence of the defendant as stipulated by law.

Delivering judgement, Justice Halilu held that the prosecution was able to prove its case against Nzeribe beyond any reasonable doubt. Consequently, the judge convicted him on all the four-count charges.

He held that the convict indeed made false pretence and is guilty of forgery and using same to be genuine.

However, following his absence, the judge deferred the sentencing of the convict to a time that either the Inspector-General of Police or the EFCC arrest Nzeribe and brought him to court to be sentenced appropriately.

The judge also ordered that land in Maitama acquired with the forged documents be immediately retrieved by its original owner Mr Ishaya Madi.

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