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Alleged N178m Land Fraud: Witness Narrates how UniJos Union Leaders Defrauded Members

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The Fourth Prosecution Witness , PW4, Bitrus Sambo Bako in the trial of Kassam Kopte and Yakubu Zwalnan, former Chairman and Secretary of the University of Jos Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions respectively on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 narrated before Justice S.P. Gang of the Plateau State High Court, Jos how the defendants lured union members into fraudulent land deals and defrauded them of their life savings.

The duo are facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on three-count charges that border on criminal breach of trust and conspiracy to defraud to the tune of N178,583,560.36 (One Hundred and Seventy-eight Million, Five Hundred and Eighty-three Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Naira, Thirty-six Kobo) in contravention of Section 97 of the Penal Code Laws of Plateau State and punishable under the same law.

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Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Steve Odiase, the witness stated that he knew the defendants and had dealings with them during their tenure as union executives. Kopte he said, was UniJos NASU President from 2012 to 2019, while Zwalnan was the Secretary.

According to him, “I paid for one plot of land with the sum of N170,000 (One Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira), and an additional N4,500 for processing the land papers, but I never received the documents or took possession of the land.”

The witness further disclosed that the defendants advertised for the sale of the plots of land in two locations-Jos South and Jos East-to the University of Jos community.

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He recognized the photocopy of the document with which the ownership of the land was processed for him which was admitted in court as ‘Exhibit E2’ after opposition from counsel to the first defendant, D.G Dashe and that of the second defendant.

Justice Gang thereafter adjourned the matter till July 15, 2024, for continuation of trial.

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