THE REPORT OF  NUJ LAGOS CHAPTER MOWE (ABAREN)/PEN-JEWEL LAND COMMITTEE THAT NAILED FORMER NUJ CHAIRMAN  ELUMOYE

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NUJ Light House, Lagos

This committee, comprising of ten members, was inaugurated on the 27thof October 2017 by the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council, Dr. Qasim Akinreti.

APPEARANCES

Six key players in the Abaren village Mowe land / NUJ/NAWOJ Pen Jewel Estate Project honoured our invitations and appeared before the committee. They are the immediate past Chairman of NUJ Lagos Council, Mr. Deji Elumoye, the President of NAWOJ and initiator of Pen Jewel Estate scheme, Mrs. Ifenyinwa Omowole, the former Chairman of NAWOJ, Lagos, Mrs. Dupe Olaoye- Osinkolu, the former Treasurer of Lagos Council, Mrs. Kehinde Ajayi, representatives of Prime Waterview Holdings; representative of the Surveyor and the traditional land owners (Omonile), Chief Suraj Akinrogun Salami, that helped the Union to buy the land.

Unfortunately, the Treasurer of NAWOJ, Mrs. Tosin Odusola failed to honour the committee’s invitations on more than two occasions. Following a letter written to her employer by this Committee, we got assurances by her General Manager (GM) that she would appear before the committee upon her return to her duty post, as she was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She never did.

APPEALS

We got a letter of appeal from Mrs. Grace Ademu, the widow of a former Secretary of the FRCN Chapel, Mr. Sunday Ademu. The late Ademu paid N42, 000 as part payment for the land before he died in 2008. The widow pleaded with the Council to allocate her half a plot of land in lieu of the amount.

The committee also got a letter from Chief Suraj Akinrogun Salami, the agent/facilitator of the MOWE land, requesting for the payment of his finder’s fee of N4.5 million, (on the N90 million paid for the land) being the statutory five (5) percent commission charged on any real estate transaction exceeding N1 million. This money, he explained, has lingered since the regime of Wahab Oba, then chairman of NUJ Lagos Council.

OTHERS

Throughout the period this committee worked for the Council on the Abaren Village Mowe land fact-findings, we never got any form of allowance, monetary or otherwise, from the Council. Neither was this committee given any money, nor stationery for its work. In instances where we invited people to appear before us, like the omo onile and the surveyor, who both reside in Abeokuta, Ogun state, the committee raised money for their transportation within itself. We however admit that occasionally, the NUJ Lagos Council Chairman, Dr. Qasim Akinreti, bought us food and drinks, especially on days when our sittings went late into the night.

FINDINGS/OBSERVATIONS

  1. The total value of the Pen Jewel estate scheme is valued at N1.6 billion, as contained in a letter from the developer to the NUJ/NAWOJ.
  2. The NUJ/NAWOJ has remitted N73 million to the developer as counterpart funding.
  3. The committee observed that from the MOU signed with the developer, the ENTIRE NUJ Lagos Council land at Abaren village in Mowe, Ogun state, measuring about 56.753 hectares, was conceded to the developer. Technically, this presupposes that the NUJ Lagos Council no longer have a single plot of land in Abaren Village, Mowe.
  4. Mr. Deji Elumoye, the immediate past Chairman of the Lagos NUJ Council agreed in his statement to the committee that he bought extra land for the NUJ Lagos Council in Abaren Village, Mowe, Ogun State.
  5. Mr. Elumoye agreed that he paid the sum of N2 million for the extra land he bought for the NUJ Lagos Council in the afore-mentioned location. Sadly, he was unable to tell the committee the number of plots or acres or hectares he bought with the N2 million.
  6. That there is no evidence/document to show that the immediate past leadership of the NUJ Lagos Council under Mr. Elumoye bought the additional land in Mowe as claimed.
  7. That the Council is unable to produce receipts of purchase of the land in Abaren Village in Mowe. No trace of this in any file in the NUJ Lagos Council secretariat.
  8. That the NUJ Lagos Council under the past administration lacked proper administrative acumen, especially the Council Secretary, who was unable to keep proper records of the secretariat activities.
  9. Receipts for purchase of land were issued to some members especially the EXCO members of the last dispensation years after allocations were concluded. The committee also observed that those involved claimed to have paid cash to the same EXCO on the 1st of March 2015, which happen to have been a Sunday. There is no evidence that the amount collected was deposited into the Union’s account.
  10. That about sixty people who have no land with the NUJ were allowed to participate in the PEN-JEWEL scheme. These include people who had land with Labour Writers and Exco members who hitherto had no land in the NUJ scheme.
  11. The committee noted that three subscribers to the PEN-JEWEL Estate were refunded their foreign currency but wondered why the same gesture was not extended to others who indicated interest to withdraw from the project.
  12. Money collected for perimeter fencing of the Mowe land cannot be properly accounted for. It was observed that part of the money was used for “OTHER PURPOSES” outside what it was meant for and without any form of approval by the contributors of the money. It should be noted that the money for perimeter fencing is NOT NUJ Lagos Council’s money but that of subscribers to the Mowe land project; hence, the NUJ Lagos Council had no right to use it for anything else.
  13. That the names of some subscribers who paid for the perimeter fencing were not captured in the list submitted by the Council to the Committee. E.g The Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) paid a lump sum of N2. 040 million to the Council for perimeter fencing. This was not captured in the Council record.
  14. The Gate house and perimeter fencing built by Mr. Elumoye on the Mowe land is anything but a sham. In total, it is less than the fencing for a plot of land.
  15. That Mrs Ify Omowole unilaterally brought in Primewaterview Holdings Limited as replacement for the South African developer with which subscribers were convinced to enlist and pay in dollars for the Pen Jewel scheme.
  16. That no due diligence was done on Primewaterview Holdings Limited’s (developer) track record in developing or building AFFORDABLE MASS HOUSING.
  17. That the entire process was shrouded in secrecy as subscribers were not adequately briefed about the project. For instance, subscribers entered the scheme with their full plot of land but will only get a three-bedroom bungalow built on 325 square meter. This means half of their plot of land is lost to the promoters of the scheme.
  18. That the MoU signed by Primewaterview Holdings Limited, NAWOJ, represented by Mrs. Ify Omowole, and Lagos NUJ Council, represented by Mr. Deji Elumoye, is suspicious as no witness signed on both sides, just as the Counsel of the three parties did not sign the MoU.
  19. That the MoU is skewed in favour of the developer, Messers Primewaterview Holdings Limited.
  20. That the representatives of the subscribers, Mrs. Ify Omowole and Mr. Deji Elumoye, surreptitiously ‘sold’ the subscribers into ‘slavery’ with the MoU they signed.
  21. That congress or subscribers were not carried along or briefed on the content of the MoU before it was signed on their behalf.
  22. That Mrs. Ify Omowole, did not seek professional advice on such magnitude of project before embarking on it. That she also acted unilaterally throughout the process of the project. There is no proof of collective decision on the project by Mrs. Omowole and her cabinet. No minutes of meetings showing decisions taken; no written document of instructions for actions regarding the project.
  23. That there was a frivolous and suspicious withdrawal of subscribers’ money deposited in UBA Plc by Mrs. Ify Omowole, amounting to US$227, 000 on March 31, 2016.
  24. That Mrs. Ify Omowole did not inform any member of her cabinet of her intention to withdraw subscribers’ US$227, 000 deposited in UBA plc on March 31, 2016.
  25. That Mrs. Ify Omowale did not give convincing reason(s) for her single-handed withdrawal of subscribers’ money lodged in UBA Plc amounting to US$227, 000 on March 31, 2016.
  26. That Mrs. Ify Omowale’s excuse for the withdrawal does not hold and is unacceptable. She had said she withdrew the US$227, 000 because of the falling exchange rate and also to pay the developer (Primewaterview Holdings Limited) the advance of subscribers’ counterpart funding. This does not hold given that as at the time of withdrawal of the money by Mrs. Ify Omowole, there was no signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NUJ/NAWOJ Pen Jewel Estate and Primewaterview Holdings Limited as developer because the US$227, 000 was withdrawn four (4) clear months before the signing of the MoU; hence no need to pay counterpart funding at that time. Also, the excuse that the US dollar was losing value at that time is unacceptable as the Nigerian naira further crashed to almost N500 to a dollar as at the time of signing the MoU.
  27. That there was a case of “EXPIRED”US Dollars amounting to US$27, 610.
  28. That Mrs. Ify Omowole confessed to giving the US$24, 000 out of the ‘EXPIRED’ US$27, 610, to a car dealer to use for transactions in America after she claimed she was unable to convert the said currency to naira as it was rejected by banks here.
  29. That Mrs. Ify Omowole claimed that the said car dealer was unable to spend the US$24, 000 in the American market.
  30. That the car dealer eventually agreed to change the US$24, 000 at N150/$1, amounting to about N4 million. This is very curious because if the money could not be spent in America, why would the car dealer agree to change same to naira? Is he a santa claus?
  31. That there is no record that the proceed from the expired US$27, 610 was paid into the account of NAWOJ or Pen Jewel estate project.
  32. That Mrs. Ify Omowole has not given account of the payments made in the local currency, that is, naira, to NAWOJ by subscribers to the project.
  33. That Mrs. Ify Omowole declined to submit or bring to the Committee ALL the statement of account of NAWOJ in connection to the Pen Jewel project, even after a letter was sent to her for same.
  34. That on November 10, 2017, at 10:15 am, Mrs. Ify Omowale had a print out of the NAWOJ UBA Dollar account printed. The period printed was from January 12, 2015 to March 31, 2016.
  35. Following from (43) above, that Mrs. Ify Omowole may have deliberately attempted to interfere with the Committee’s findings because the US dollar account print-out she submitted to the Committee only read from January 12, 2015 to July 29, 2015. Therefore the withdrawal of US$227, 000 on March 31, 2016, was not captured in what she submitted to the Committee even though she had the account printed out by UBA covering the withdrawal in question.
  36. That the Committee however went the extra mile to get a copy of the account statement capturing Mrs. Ify Omowole’s withdrawal of the US$227, 000.
  37. That there is a NAWOJ Cooperative account held in secrecy and operated by Mrs. Ify Omowale and Treasurer of NAWOJ, Mrs. Tosin Odusola. Through this account, the principals have made “SUSPICIOUS PAYMENTS” to some people in connection with transactions on the Pen Jewel scheme.
  38. That NAWOJ has no cooperative society, hence, why did an account have to be opened in such a name.
  39. That the developer, Primewaterview, showed no commitment to the project. No money has been invested in the project by the developer, going by the breakdown of expenses incurred so far on the project which he submitted to the committee. So far, the developer has only spent money he got from the subscribers’ contribution amounting to N78 million.
  40. To further confirm the developer’s lack of commitment to the project, Messers Primewaterview Holdings Limited as at the time of submitting this report, has failed to produce three optional building design as recommended by the Committee when he appeared before her in November 2017.
  41. That the three prototype buildings put up on the land by the developer falls short of expectations of the subscribers and unacceptable.
  42. That the N5.5 million charged by the developer for each three bedroom bungalow is unacceptable going by the prototype on ground.
  43. That there is a lot of dissatisfaction on the part of subscribers to the scheme, leading to their indication of interest to pull out or get a refund of their money.
  44. That after two visits to the Abaren Village, Mowe, the land in question needs to be remapped and reallocated to subscribers. This is because markings and pillars of earlier allocation done has been eroded by nature. Hence, nobody can really say where his/her plot of land is.
  45. That subscribers’ monies are trapped in the project and all efforts must be made to recover same.
  46. That clearly, the NUJ/NAWOJ Pen Jewel Estate project is a FAILED PROJECT. This is the truth, and no need for sentiments. ALL PROVISIONS IN THE MOU HAVE BEEN VIOLATED. Besides, the testimonies of both the developer and the NAWOJ President, Mrs. Ify Omowole, are also a testimony that the project has failed. “If we can get external funding then the project can fly,” they both said.
  47. That sample survey of subscribers shows they are no longer interested in the project but only want their money back.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The MOU signed with the developer should be CANCELLED and the project TERMINATED. The developer has shown gross lack of commitment, and diligent execution on the project. A letter should be sent to the developer terminating the MoU and project in its ENTIRETY.
  2. A Quantity Surveyor should be engaged to assess the value of work done by the developer on site.
  3. Where the assessment by the quantity surveyor falls short of expenditure submitted by the developer, Messers Primewaterview Holdings Limited (developer) should be made to refund the difference.
  4. In the event of failure to comply, the developer should be reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help recover the money.
  5. NAWOJ President, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole MUST pay back N159 per dollar, amounting to about N4.3million being the balance of the expired $27, 610 purported to have been exchanged for N150. This amount is arrived at using the N309 exchange rate figure earlier agreed on for the conversion of the $420. She should also provide evidence of remittance of the earlier N4 million from this money to the NAWOJ Pen Jewel estate account.
  6. Although subscribers cannot get a 100 percent refund of their money, however, the recovered monies should be shared on pro rata basis to ALL subscribers.
  7. That N4 MILLION being the excess on the alleged N10 million claimed to have been paid to the traditional land owners, Omonile, MUST be refunded by Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole and the former Chairman of Lagos NUJ, Mr. Deji Elumoye. The reason being that a key witness to the transaction emphatically made it clear to the committee that only N6 million was paid, (N2 million each to the three families the land was purchased from) contrary to the N10 million alleged by Mr. Elumoye and Mrs. Omowole. There is no receipt to even show that the N6 million was paid to the Omo Oniles. The payment was also not subjected to subscribers’ approval.
  8. That any land allocated to subscribers between 2013 and 2017 MUST be revoked outright. Mr. Elumoye MUST pay back the full money of any such revoked land to the allottees. This is because allocation for the Abaren Village land in Mowe, was concluded in 2012. (See attached circular dated 13th November 2012), urging subscribers to pay N60, 000 for perimeter fencing to prevent encroachment.

It is rather appalling that on March 1, 2015, (Sunday) a set of people, comprising mainly of past exco members of Mr. Elumoye and few others, ALL PAID “CASH” for Mowe land on the same day, including payment for topography and perimeter fencing. This was three clear years after the sale of Mowe land had ended. The payment amounted to about N1 million. Further investigation into this “CURIOUS TRANSACTION” by this committee revealed that there was no evidence of lodgment of the money allegedly paid by the former Exco members, secretariat staff, and other beneficiaries, into the NUJ Lagos Council account. Neither was there any trace of the transaction captured in any NUJ Lagos Council books, at least, based on available documents before the committee.

  1. The Treasurer of NAWOJ, Mrs. Tosin Odusola, should be reported and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to give account of her stewardship and her role in the finances of the project. Specifically, Mrs. Odusola should be made to explain ALL she knows about the NAWOJ Cooperative account through which SUSPICIOUS PAYMENTS were alleged to have been made to some persons. As at the close of this committee’s sitting, NAWOJ had NO COOPERATIVE SOCIETY; hence, the curiosity about this account, which was alleged to have been run in top secrecy by both NAWOJ President, Mrs. Ify Omowole and Mrs. Tosin Odusola.
  2. That Mrs. Ify Omowole MUST refund the N779, 000 collected ffrom subscribers in form of application fees. Although 713 subscribers were captured on the list, 779 people actually bought the application form for the PEN-JEWEL project at N1000 each.
  3. Mr. Deji Elumoye, the immediate past chairman of the NUJ Lagos Council, should be seriously reprimanded for his role in the Mowe land saga. Mr. Elumoye MUST also be made to pay back the amount collected from subscribers for perimeter fencing. Failure by Mr. Elumoye to pay back the money, he should be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution on charges of “DIVERSION OF FUNDS”, which is a criminal offence.
  4. That sequel to item number 6 and 7 under the segment: Findings/Observation, the NUJ Lagos Council General Secretary under Mr. Elumoye, Mrs. Bimbo Oyetunde should be reprimanded and sanctioned for “NEGLIGENCE OF DUTY” over her inability to keep proper record of the Council. As the General Secretary, she is the custodian of the Secretariat and everything about it. It is appalling and a shame that documents as important as the Mowe land document is not anywhere in the record of the Secretary nor the Council.
  5. That government is a continuum; hence, the NUJ Lagos Council should pay Mr. Suraj Akinrogun Salami his finder’s fee of N4.5 million owed him since the Abaren land was purchased in the days of Oba Wahab, Mr. Elumoye’s immediate predecessor. While no signed agreement existed between the Council and Mr. Salami on this amount, it is standard international practice to pay finder’s fee of five (5) percent on cost of transactions in real estate exceeding N1 million. Therefore not signing any document is not an excuse not to pay him. For over a decade, Mr. Salami has kept watch over the land for the Council, despite that there was no signed agreement between the Council and him to do this; he was not compensated in any form for this service.
  6. . He has ensured that no encroachment of any kind happened to the land. This is a very rare gesture by any omo onile. Equally, Mr. Salami and surveyor are the only two persons that know the beginning and end of the land in question; none of the NUJ executives can identify the entire 56.753 hectares of land in Mowe. Besides, it should also be remembered and considered that the NUJ Lagos Council has no proof (receipts et al) of ownership on the land as the past administrations failed to obtain same. However, Mr. Salami has given assurances of assisting the NUJ Lagos Council to obtain same from the owners and sellers of the land. We WARN that failure to pay him his finder’s fee may boomerang. The Union cannot afford to lose the land valued at over N100 million because of N4.5 million. We recommend that good reasoning should prevail here.
  7. That Mr. Deji Elumoye MUST REFUND the N2 million he claimed to have paid for the extra land he bought in Mowe if he is unable to provide evidence of purchase of same.

 

WAY FORWARD

  1. The NUJ EXCO should stay action on the Mowe Land until the termination letter has been communicated to the developer. Once this is done, the NUJ can take possession of the 56. 753 hectares of land.
  2. A committee should be set up to handle a FRESH round of land allocation for subscribers to the NUJ Mowe land. The re-allocation has become necessary because the beams and pillars used as identification in the earlier allocation has been washed away by nature, as such nobody can identify his or her plot anymore.
  3. The cost of re allocation (surveyor mapping and cutting into plots with pillar) shall be borne by the Lagos NUJ council. This is only applicable to subscribers that have earlier paid for topography. Subscribers that didn’t pay for topography and mapping previously, will have to pay for fresh allocation.
  4. Before the re-allocation exercise, the NUJ EXCO should place a minimum of half page advert in two (2) national newspapers announcing the re-allocation exercise. This is to avoid future claim of ignorance of the exercise by subscriber.
  5. The committee shall see to the commencement of development work on the Mowe land.
  6. Allottees will be given three months from the day of fresh allocation, to commence development work on their land. If after three months nothing is done, a letter shall be sent to such subscriber by the NUJ EXCO, or the Committee. An extension of 90 days shall further apply after which such allocation MAY BE revoked.
  7. Following such revocation, the committee shall resell and reallocate the said land, and the original buyer’s money refunded to him. This will be at the cost of the original purchase from the NUJ, including the payment for topography.
  8. Any extra money accruing from such sale from (6) above shall be remitted into the NUJ Lagos Council account.
  9. The committee to be set up for this purpose shall determine the modalities for fresh allocation and period of same.
  10. The committee shall report directly to the NUJ Lagos Council Chairman, and brief Congress accordingly as the need may arise from time to time.
  11. The committee shall also work out what use or purpose the three uncompleted buildings on the land can be deployed for.
  12. The Committee should also be mandated to look into properties (real estate) belonging to the NUJ Lagos Council for effective coordination.
  13. The NUJ Lagos Council EXCO MUST ensure that monies are recovered from the above mentioned actors in the failed Pen Jewel estate scheme. The EXCO should remember that it is peoples’ hard earned money and justice must be seen to have been done.
  14. For his role in the NUJ/NAWOJ Pen Jewel Estate scheme, and also the NUJ Abaren Village land in Mowe, Ogun state, Mr. Deji Elumoye should be banned for 10 years from holding any office in any capacity under the NUJ. He is also to be stripped of any privilege(s) that may be accruable to any past NUJ chairman during the period of ban.
  15. The above in (12) should also apply to Mrs. Ify Omowole and Mrs. Tosin Odusola.
  16. The above measures will serve as a deterrent to others who may in future want to serve the NUJ to be upright in their dealings while in office.

CONCLUSION

The Committee is grateful for the opportunity to serve this great Council. We thank immensely ALL THOSE that made our job a success. Your testimonies, statements, tips, privileged information shared with the committee amongst others were very useful in unravelling the truth.

We also thank all those that honoured our invitation for interaction. Your appearance before the committee is a respect for our great Council. We salute you.

Long Live the Lagos Council of the NUJ.

Fabian Anawo Muyiwa Lucas

Committee Chairman Committee Secretary

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