By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A Magistrate’s Court in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, has dischargedand acquitted a commissioner in the state Local Government Service Commission, Mr. Dare Omotosho, over allegation of stealing and conversion of granite worth N5 million.
In his ruling on Monday, the Chief Magistrate of Magistrate’s Court 1 in the state capital, Adegboye Olusoji, freed Omotosho for failure of the complainants to produce convincing evidence of the alleged crime and on the grounds that the ownership of the granite resides in the defendant.
“With the evidence before the court, the defendant is the owner and how can the owner be alleged to have stolen something belonging to him?
“With the proofs before me, the litigant failed to prove that the defendant actually stole the material or converted the material under contest for personal gains, it was a proceed of his hard work and he can’t be punished for this.
“The court acquits and discharges him of these charges and the case is hereby dismissed,” he ruled.
The case started in 2017 with the litigants accusing Omotoso of stealing N5 million granite under the guise that they are the real owner of a quarry company named Inland Stones Nigeria Limited located in Ikere Ekiti.
Recounting his ordeal during the one year long trial of the case, Omotosho, who said that the litigants, Mr O. Akinleye and A. Aladeoba, had blackmailed him when they brought the case to court in 2017, said he is the owner of Inland Stones Nigeria Limited, a quarry site in Ikere Ekiti.
“A friend brought both Aladeoba and Akinleye to me in 2016 and they introduced themselves as mining engineers. They leased a quarry from me for a period of three months with a promise to pay me N25 million.
“They said they would revive the quarry and run it for the agreed time but after sometime, I discovered they didn’t have money to even properly manage the quarry. They were using substandard oil to maintain the machines. They couldn’t even drill the hole as they used the hole l had already dug. They started blasting and crushed the stones and started producing but they refused to pay me as agreed.
“I waited till the agreement of three months lapsed and even increased it for 10 more days. I asked my lawyer to write them and inform them that they should vacate my quarry site. They were begging me to allow them to continue but I refused because they had breached our agreement. Then, they began to threaten that they would blackmail me
and destroy my reputation and political career.
“After some time, they went to the media to publish trumped up charges of stealing and conversion of granite from his own quarry site against me. They petitioned the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti alleging that I stole granite from my own quarry to the tune of N5 million. The police investigated the matter and found that I was innocent and threw out the case.
“They again petitioned the police, insisting that the police should
charge the case to court and the case was brought to court in 2017. But when the trial of the case began, they refused to show up and were giving excuses of being sick today and not well tomorrow.
“Today, however, the Chief Magistrate Adegboye Olasoji of Magistrate Court 1, discharged and acquitted me due to the fact that the ownership of the granite resides in me, defendant and the fact that the agreement the complainant had with me was breached by them.”