Floriana De Stefani, an Italian woman, was found guilty and given a three-year prison sentence by the Lagos State Special Offenses Court in Ikeja for attempting to claim a property owned by her landlord, Waterside Properties Limited.
After finding the foreigner guilty of one of the six counts brought against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Justice Mojisola Dada imprisoned her.
According to the judge’s ruling, the offender used falsified paperwork to obtain possession of the home she had been renting out following the passing of her husband, Luca Signorelli.
She was explicitly found guilty by the court of obtaining ownership of the property through the use of forged documents and fake seals.
On March 30, 2019, the EFCC charged the convict and a Nigerian woman named Stella Ogboru on five counts, but later changed the charge to six counts and omitted the name of her co-defendant.
She was accused of crimes that involved forgery, property theft, the use of forged documents, and the use of fake seals.
The foreigner had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which led to her trial.
In his plea for mercy, the defence counsel, Babatunde Ogungbamila, urged the judge to temper justice with mercy, stating that the aged Italian and widow was a first-time offender who was misled by her former lawyer.
While handing down the three years sentence, Justice Dada also ordered the release of the property to Waterside Properties Limited within three weeks.
She, however, gave the convict an option of a N50 million fine which must be paid within three weeks from Friday or else she will have to serve the jail term.
One of the amended charges read, “That you, Floriana De-Stefani sometime in 2015, within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable court, dishonestly converted for your use, a property known and situated at No.14A/B Warring Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, a property of Waterside Properties Limited.”
Another count read, “That you, Floriana De-Stefani sometime in the year 2015 in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court with dishonest intention forged a document titled “Deed Of Assignment” dated 1983, allegedly prepared by Rosamond O. Bakare: purported to have been entered between Mr E.A. Lowo on behalf of Waterside Properties Limited, on the first part and late Lucas Signorelli and Mrs Floriana De-Stefani, on the second part.”
“That you, Floriana De-Stefani sometime in the year 2015 in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court with dishonest intention forged a document titled “Extract from the extraordinary General Meeting of Waterside Properties Limited dated 17th Of June, 1983; purported to have been made in preparation for the dissolution of Waterside Properties Limited,” another count read.