A 67-year-old lawyer, Olukayoke Folayan, has been sentenced to 9 months in prison by an Ikeja Special offences Court, Lagos for stealing the sum of N6 million from his client.
Folayan, who has spent 43 years at the bar, was convicted on a one count charge of stealing by Justice O.A Williams (MRS).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had arraigned Folayan for converting the sum of N6 million meant for the purchase of a property on behalf of one Edna Falase (his client).
According to the EFCC prosecutor, S. O Daji, the convict committed the offence on March 24, 2016 in Lagos.
Daji, who had called four witnesses to testify in the matter, said that the complaint (Falase) paid the sum of N7 million to Folayan to perfect some documentations and make part payment for a property she wanted to buy.
“On her instruction the defendant paid the sum of N1 million to the lawyer of thd vendor but diverted the balance sum of N6 million.
“On March 27, 2014, the sum of N7 million was paid into the account of the law firm of Olukayode Afolayan & Co. The defendant kept withdrawing the balance of N6 million by making payment transfers to various people like his wife and one Kazeem Olamilekan, who received the sum of N700, 000.
“The defendant, during interrogation by the commission, confessed that he used part of the money to buy encyclopedia of forms and precedents for his law firm. He also confessed using part of the money to service his personal debts and also buying personal effect.
“The defendant said that he also deposited the sum of N700, 000 for a vehicle – Mercedes Benz he intended to buy. He also said that he lent N200, 000 to his daughter, which she paid back,” Daji said.
However, while delivering her judgement, Justice Williams held that the prosecution has proven both the actus rens and mens rea of the offence of stealing against the defendant beyond reasonable doubts.
“The defence proffered by the defendant is that he had the intention to repay the money and that the sum of N1. 5 million was due to him as professional fees. But that defence doesn’t avail him.
“The mere promise to pay is not promise that the defendant truly intended to repay the money, since he has had three years to do so but didn’t. The evidence in this case shows that a person in our noble profession who was entrusted with funds breached that trust. It is most fortunate. In my final analysis, I pronounce the defendant guilty as charged,” the judge ruled.
While pronouncing sentence, the judge said, “However, it doesn’t appear that the defendant has the ability to restitute. Therefore to sentence him to orison and order him to restitute in the circumstance, will amount to double jeopardy.
“The punishment of stealing by virtue of Section 287 of the Criminal laws of Lagos State, 2011 (2015 reprint) is 3 years. The defendant is hereby sentenced to a term prison of imprisonment of nine months”.