It was a sober moment at the Ebute Meta Magistrate’s Court, after a complainant, Mr. Emmanuel Ejike, admitted collecting N8m from the father of an accused as settlement.
The father of the accused was said to have sold his family land to raise the N8m to rescue his son, Onyeka Nsofor, who was said to have, in company with seven others, stolen N15m from Ejike.
It was alleged that the N8m was collected by Ejike with the understanding that Nsofor would be set free by the police. But the complainant told the court that the N8m was a far cry from the N15m stolen from him.
The complainant, who sells shoes at Balogun Market in Lagos, told the court that he hailed from the same area in Nnewi, Anambra State with Nsofor.
“I collected N8m from him and it is not up to what his son stole from me,” he said after one of the lawyers told him that he did not tell the police the whole truth.
But the revelation came as a shock because the police denied knowing anything about the payment.
The police had charged seven people to court for the theft of the N15m which Ejike said was stolen from his warehouse in Balogun Market.
In his evidence before the court, he said, “Nsofor’s father begged me to let him follow me to Lagos so he could be helping me at my warehouse.
“I sell shoes in my warehouse, while I also supply my wife who sells in the showroom. We sell up to 100 to 150 cartons in a day and make up to N1m or N2m.
“The theft, which occurred between September 2010 and September 2011, was made possible because during this period, I had stopped my auditors from working and didn’t know such a thing had happened.
“It was after I called Ejike, and spoke to him in my room. He confessed to me that, together with three of my employees, he had been stealing 10 cartons of my shoes every week.
“I collected his ATM card and I saw N1.2m in his account. As I was about to get him arrested, he ran away and I did not want to arrest his father for his son’s crime.”
The defendants’ counsel, however, said, “I want you to tell this court, how much you collected from the old man (Onyeka’s father) before deciding to ask the police to leave his son.”
At this point, he said he had collected N8m, which was the proceed of the family land sold by the defendant’s father.
The matter was adjourned till September 23.