Admin l Friday, October 7, 2022
IKEJA, Lagos, Nigeria – A Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, today convicted and sentenced an Italian woman, Floriana De-Stefani to three years imprisonment for using false documents and counterfeit seals to acquire property belonging to Waterside Properties Ltd,
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged De-Stefani with six counts bordering on theft, forgery, use of false document and counterfeit seals.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mojisola Dada, found the defendant guilty as charged on count six bordering on the use of false documents and counterfeit seals, which she used to confer ownership of the property on herself.
Dada, however, discharged and acquitted her on count one to count five which bordered on stealing and forgery. She thereafter sentenced her to three years in prison, or pay a fine of N50 million, following the allocutus of her defence counsel, Mr Babatunde Ogungbamila.
The judge also ordered the release of the property to Waterside Properties Ltd within three weeks. She was also granted a temporary release for with an undertaken from her lawyer three weeks to pay the fine or serve the jail term.
Ogungbamila, in his allocutus, prayed the court to temper Justice with mercy that the convict was a first-time offender who was apparently misled by her former lawyer.
“My lord, the truth in all this is that a man should be very careful in asserting document that he is not sure of. I pray the court to temper Justice with mercy and the defendant is advanced in age and also has health issues.
“She is a first time offender and as your lordship noted, it may be the fault of the counsel that advised her and she is not vast with the Nigeria Law. The lesson learnt here is that we should be very careful with document. I was not part of this case from the beginning my lord. We humbly plead for non- custodial sentence,” Ogungbamila said.
The EFCC arraigned De-Stefani on March 30, 2019 alongside one Stella Ogboru on a five-count charge bordering on forgery and stealing of property belonging to a company, Waterside Properties Limited. The charge was amended to six-count charged by the EFCC counsel, Mr Ahmed Yerima.
She had pleaded not guilt to the charge prompting trial to begin. The prosecution presented six witnesses and tendered several documents evidence as evidence against the defendant.
After closing the case of the prosecution, the defendant through her then counsel, Mr Olisa Agbakogba filed a no-case submission urging the court to dismiss the charge. Dada had dismissed the no- case submission and ordered the defendant to open her defence as the prosecution had made a case against her. The defendant thereafter engaged the service of Ogungbamila, through whom she began her defence by calling five witnesses.
EFCC submitted that De-Stefani sometime In 2015, dishonestly converted for her own use, property known and situated at No.14A/B Warring Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, a property of Waterside Properties Limited.