A 62-year old retired colonel Eugene Okpala, has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu for duping Dominion City Church, of N34.5m.
Justice M. N. Yunusa convicted the colonel in a case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretenses from the Church in 2010.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, that the convict was earlier slated for trial on Wednesday but the case took a different turn when the retired colonel decided to change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.
In 2008, Eugene Okpala allegedly approached one Barrister Vincent Obetta of Igwurube Chambers and a member of Dominion City Church under the pretext of having large portion of land for sale at N40million (forty million naira).
The complainant, Dominion City Church, in need of a landed property to build their school, negotiated and eventually bought the land for N34.5m. The church also paid additional five percent of the sum, which is, N1.75m as agency fee to Igbwurube Chambers.
Consequently, in September 2010, the church started developing the land, but another lawyer came up to tell them that the land belonged to one Chief Philip C. Asiodu.
The statement read in part,
“Investigation was launched into the matter and the convict was found culpable and was arraigned. During trial, counsel for the EFCC, I. I. Mbachie tendered 13 exhibits which were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit C1-13.”
The defence counsel, E. O. Isinu, prayed the court to tamper justice with mercy, saying his client was a first time offender, after he changed his plea.
Justice Yunusa consequently sentenced Okpala to seven years imprisonment on each count proferred against him. The sentences are to run concurrently.