An auditor with the A.Z Opeifa and Co, an accounting and audit firm, Gbolade Lasisi, on Monday, told a Lagos State Special Offences Court how a prince of Kweme land in Badagry, Semasa James, allegedly made questionable transactions from the bank accounts of the estate of his deceased father, Oba Afolabi James.
Semasa is standing trial alongside one Afolabi Kazeem on seven counts of conspiracy, cheating, stealing, forging of company resolution and fraudulent disposal of trust property.
According to the police Special Fraud Unit’s prosecutor, Mr O. O. Olabisi, the prince fraudulently converted N500m property belonging to the late king’s estate between 2000 and 2017.
Lasisi, while being led in evidence by Olabisi, told the court that he was invited to audit the accounts of the estate of the late king after members of the royal family suspected foul play in the management of the estate.
He added that while he was auditing the accounts, Semasa was uncooperative and refused to provide necessary documents relating to the estate to auditors.
He said, “In the interest of fairness, the first defendant was advised to come with his own auditor and he was to provide some documents for the audit; when that did not happen, the SFU provided three bank statements that we used to carry out the exercise.
“By virtue of my training as a chartered accountant, I discovered that there were many deposits into accounts that were not connected to the estate.
“Some of these accounts are the personal account of the first defendant, Mr Kolade James, Komaj Nigeria Limited, Touch Down Travels and many others like that.
“We recommended that if the estate had many administrators, there would be no issue of mistrust and the burden of giving reports would not be on one person as there would be other administrators giving reports to the beneficiaries.”
Lasisi noted while being cross-examined by Semasa’s counsel, Martins Oyigbo, that the amount that was illegally diverted from the accounts was more than the N500m alleged by the SFU.
The prosecution alleges that Semasa had fraudulently sold a property located at Plot 1440 Ilesanmi Street, Itire Road, Surulere, Lagos, to a private individual and illegally leased another property located at Plot 282 Ajose Adeogun Street Victoria Island, Lagos, to Ecobank Plc.
Semasa was also alleged to have forged some purchase receipts of his late father’s property, while Kazeem was alleged to be an accomplice in defrauding the late king’s estate.
The offences are said to contravene sections 383(1), 383(2)(f), 390(9), 421,434, 465 and 467 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The presiding judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, adjourned the case till February 13 for the continuation of trial.