Thursday, 27 April 2017

EFCC quizzes Abuja estate developer, SAN over alleged N2bn land fraud

EFCC quizzes Abuja estate developer, SAN over alleged N2bn land fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has quizzed an Abuja-based estate developer, who is also the promoter of Winning Clause Limited, Obiageli Okwubanego, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, P. I. N. Ikwueto, over alleged inappropriate land deals running into billions of naira.
A senior operative of the anti-graft agency told journalists in Abuja on Wednesday that their invitation and interrogation stemmed from a petition by over 300 house owners on the platform of Winning Clause Estate Residents Association at Plot 67, Kafe District, Gwarinpa Extension, Abuja.

They alleged that Okwubanego collected over N2 billion from them under false pretence.
The source said: “While Barrister Ikwueto was interrogated last week, Mrs. Obiageli Okwubanego was quizzed for over six hours on Tuesday. Although the SAN was not directly involved in the alleged dirty land deals, he acted as a legal representative to Mrs. Okwubanego and Winning Clause Limited in the transaction,” the source stated.
“The woman (Okwubanego) was invited to the EFCC, based on the petition against her. She was interrogated over unjustly collection of huge funds, running into billions of naira from house owners in Winning Clause Estate. We have also interrogated several banks she used for the transactions and we have found strong evidence against her, the investigation is ongoing.
“The suspect has been given administrative bail; and she is expected to return here (EFCC office) for further interrogation in another day. The matter is further compounded because another woman had come forward claiming ownership of Winning Clause Limited.”
In the petition addressed to the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft commission, Ibrahim Magu, signed by Mike Arowosegbe and Taiwo Adisa, the Chairman and General Secretary of the Association respectively, and acknowledged by the EFCC on February 20, 2017, the house owners had requested for thorough investigation of the activities of Winning Clause Limited and its promoter, Obiageli Okwubanego, a land speculator, and recovery of the “monies” collected from them “under false pretence”.
According to the petitioners: “We are representatives of the residents’ and home owners’ association of the above-named estate located at Plot 67, Kafe District, Gwarinpa Extension, Abuja.
“Between 2009 and 2011, most of us subscribed to an Estate located at Plot 67, Kafe District, Gwarinpa Extension, Abuja, then known as Saraha City Estate and which belonged to Saraha/Proform Limited at the time.
“By 2012, when many had completed their buildings and actually started living in the houses, another Developer named Winning Clause Limited entered into the fray and claimed it was the rightful owner of the Plot.
“A court action was instituted by the claimants and after some pushing and shoving, the parties resolved to enter into a Consent Judgement in October 2013 and the judgement was delivered by the Abuja High Court number 24 on November 28, 2013.”
The house owners said with that judgement, the said Plot 67, Kafe District was transferred to Winning Clause Limited and their members elected to work with the company in accordance with the Consent Judgement, saying that to their utmost shock and dismay, another claimant to Winning Clause Limited surfaced in January 2017.
The residents further added that while they were all along trying to cope with “highhandedness” of Okwubanego all the while, the house owners were taken aback by the emergence of another claimant to the company, which was awarded the right to Plot 67, Kafe District by the Court.
Attaching a letter by a counsel to one Halimat Abdulazeez, which has effectively placed a caveat on the said Company, the petitioners said contrary to the judgement of the court, the said Okwubanego had imposed series of levies and fees on their members under false pretence and forced them to pay “humongous” amounts under threats to life and property.
The house owners said: “She had effectively deployed agents of the FCT administration during the tenure of Senator Bala Mohammed, who allocated the plot to her company in March 2011. Right now, the said Mrs. Okwubanego and Winning Clause had through various accounts in at least four banks collected about N1 billion (One billion Naira only) from our members.
“Our members have also paid at least N70 million (seventy million Naira) as Infrastructure fees for which the company has refused to give account after failing to undertake the infrastructural development the money was paid for.
“Our fear is that besides the said N1 billion the company had collected as land charges, the money collected under the guise of infrastructure could go down the drain if the activities of the company are not checked.”
Explaining the seeming dirty deals enveloping Winning Clause Limited transactions with its members, the petitioners said their earlier checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission had revealed that Okwubanego is not a Director of the Company and had confronted her with this fact in November 2016, but refused to provide any concrete answer.
The owners of over 300 duplexes in Abuja feared that they might have paid money to “an imposture under false pretences”, but said they could not be blamed as those of them who paid different sums, especially following the demolition of gate houses of most of their homes by officials of Development Control in 2013, having been instigated by Okwubanego’s famed relationship to ex-Minister Mohammed.
The association accused Senator Mohammed of revoking the allocation of Plot 67, Kafe District, Gwarinpa, their estate, earlier done in 2005, and allotted it to Proform West Africa (which entered into alliance with Saraha Homes) illegally.
The house owners stated that going by the letter from Halimat Abdulazeez, they are worried that Okwubanego might have defrauded them of their hard earned resources through false pretence, while also colluding to keep “our estate undeveloped and vulnerable to security risks”, requesting EFCC to unravel the true ownership of Winning Clause and retrieve their monies from undue quarters.

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