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Witnesses in the trial of Kassam Kopte and Yakubu Zwalnan, former Chairman and Secretary, the University of Jos’ Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institution,  on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, narrated before Justice S.P Gang of the Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos, how the duo allegedly lured union members into fraudulent land deals and defrauded them of their life savings in the process.

Kopte and Zwalnan are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on three-count charges bordering on criminal breach of trust and conspiracy to defraud union members to the tune of N178,583,560.36 (One Hundred and Seventy-eight Million, Five Hundred and Eighty-three Thousand, Five Hundred Sixty Naira, Thirty-six Kobo).  The alleged offence contravenes Section 97 of the Penal Code Laws of Plateau State, and is punishable under the same Law.”

 At Wednesday’s court session, Second Prosecution Witness, PW2, Dabup Luka Jacob, a lecturer in the University of Jos, who was led in evidence by prosecution counsel,  Steve Odiase, told the court that he lost N448,200 (Four Hundred and Forty-Eight Thousand, Two Hundred Naira) to the two defendants, being the total cost of two plots of land he chose to buy.

 “My Lord, in 2012, they advertised plots of land to the university community, I subscribed for four plots of land. Two were shown to me, while the remaining two I have no idea about. And the two I was shown have no title documents for me to claim them as mine. No evidence to call them mine. I paid for the two plots through direct lodgments into the NASU plots of land account they gave us, while the remaining two are to be deducted from my salary. I have a photocopy of the evidence of payments because the originals are with the union.”

In his own testimony,  Third Prosecution Witness, PW3, James Wazhi Jangfa, narrated that he lost a total of N896,400 (Eight Hundred and Ninety-Six Thousand, Four Hundred Naira) to the two defendants, being the total cost of five plots of land he was deceived into buying by the duo.

“My Lord, I subscribed for five plots of land. I paid for three while the other two were to be deducted from my salary.  Three plots of lands were shown to me and I accepted, while I was shown another two in a valley which I rejected . Of the total lands, my Lord, none has a document to back it up even after we paid for land title fees and other formalities. So technically,  my Lord, I can’t claim any of the land because it has no paper document to back them up,”he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, the first Prosecution Witness, PW1,Bitrus Ayuba, had told the court that he lost N448,000.00 (Four Hundred and Forty-eight Thousand Naira) to the two defendants in the fraudulent land purchase.

“As at that time my Lord, in one of our meetings, they advertised plots of land to us, stating that all interested persons should indicate his or her interest and that he or she would get it. We asked them the price of a plot of land and they told us it was N170,000 (One Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira). I then showed interest and paid the sum of N340,000 (Three Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira) for two plots of land. After a while, they told us again to pay the sum of N54,000 (Fifty-four Thousand Naira) for land title documents and I paid for the two plots I paid for earlier,” he stated.

All the evidence of payments made by the witnesses were admitted exhibits in court by Justice Gang after scaling stiff objections from D.G Dashe and I.P Gyang, counsels to the first and second defendants, respectively.
The judge adjourned the matter till May 14 and 15 2024 for continuation of trial.

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