A senior member of the Bar has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for selling a plot of land, put in his care as a result of dispute, for N3 million.
A land document was put in trust with the lawyer, Ahmed Mai-aji for his intervention over the land between two claimants only for him to turn round and sell the land for N3 million and diverting the proceeds from the transaction into his pocket.
Thus, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Maiduguri Zonal office on Thursday, November 8, 2018, secured the conviction of Ahmed Mai-aji, who was re-arraigned on a-three count charge before Justice Haruna Yusuf Mshelia of the State High Court, Maiduguri, Borno for the offences of Criminal breach of trust and cheating to the tune of Three Million Naira only (N3m).
The accused person who is a senior lawyer entrusted with a land document for the purpose of intervening in a land dispute between the complainant and another party, dishonestly disposes of that plot in violation of the trust the complainant have for the accused.
It will be recalled, Mai-aji was re-arraigned as a result of an application brought by his counsel, S.M Konto seeking an order declining jurisdiction to hear and determine the charge on the ground of bias or likelihood of bias by Justice Fadawu Umar.
In his ruling on 16th May 2017, Justice Umar said, “the issue of bias arises as a result of judicial rulings delivered by this court on the grounds of the application brought by the defence counsel for lack of jurisdiction by the EFCC to initiate any criminal matter before this court and the refusal of bail”
“The Registrar of the court should return the case file to the Chief Judge of the State and I hereby decline jurisdiction not to hear the case. The accused be further remanded in the prison custody”.
On Tuesday June 13, 2017, Mai-aji was re-arraigned by the EFCC before justice Mshelia. Prosecution counsel, Khalid Sanusi in proving the case, tendered seven different exhibits and five witnesses testified against the convict.
Count Three of the charge reads:
“That you, AHMED MAI AJI, sometimes in 2016 at Maiduguri Borno State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonestly induces one Baba Yusuf Bukar to deliver to you the sum of N3,000,000.00 (Three Million Naira) only, in the name of payment for a plot of land situated at Pompamari Light Industrial Layout, Maiduguri Borno State, covered by grant of Right of occupancy N0:BO/6057 of 79.1981, which was kept in your custody for the purpose of discharging your responsibility without any right to sell same, contrary to and punishable under sections 320 and 321 of penal Code Law Cap 102, Laws of the Borno State of Nigeria 1994 respectively”.
He was sentenced to five years in prison without an option of fine in count one.
The convict was however found not guilty and therefore, discharged and acquainted on count two.
On count three, the court found him guilty and convicted him to two years in prison without an option of fine. The sentences are to run concurrently”.