- More than 1000 land subscribers accuse NSCDC of duping them of N750 million
- We’re not involved, some of our personnel did it –FCT Command
From HENRY CHUKWURAH, Abuja
ON Tuesday, May 31, 2016, no fewer than 1000 residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), were set to hold a “peaceful rally” against the Cooperative Society of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). But the disguised protest march was suspended based on advice from the police.
At the centre of the deferred protest was an advertisement by the Cooperative Investment and Credit Society unit of the FCT command of the NSCDC in 2010, offering some plots of land for sale at an area known as el-Rufai dumpsite. In the advert, two categories of plots – for duplex and bungalow – with price tags of N750,000 and N350,000 respectively, were up for sale. But about six years into the deal, none of the buyers had received the plots for which they had paid a total of about N750 million.
Frustrated by several failed efforts to get either the Cooperative officials or the NSCDC authorities to assuage their fears of a failed deal, the allottees through their lawyer, Ikenna Azubuike of Distinct Chambers, petitioned the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging that the NSCDC and officials of its cooperative investment and credit society unit sold them a dummy through the advertisement.
Copies of the three-page petition dated May 17, 2016 were endorsed to the President, the Inspector General of Police, the House and the Senate committees on Public Petition, the Minister of Interior and his FCT counterpart as well as the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The petition reads in part: “The advert was categorical that subscribers would be allocated plots to commence development within one month of receipt of the purchase price. Allocation letters were issued to subscribers several months after receipt of the purchase price without physical allocation of plots to subscribers. Sample of receipt for the two categories is hereby attached and marked Ex. 1.
“In addition to non-allocation of plots to subscribers more than five years after receipt of purchase price, subscribers were deceived to make payment for infrastructural development of a non-existent site by the Cooperative. Receipt of payment is attached and marked Ex.2.
“Subscribers were invited to a meeting by the cooperative on 30/07/2015 at El-Rufai Dump site located at Gosa, along Airport Road, Lugbe to discuss the way forward. The meeting was summoned after several demands by subscribers for allocation of plots they paid for and threats of legal action were made. Ex.3. In that meeting, the cooperative pointed at a vacant plot as the site and urged subscribers to deposit N5,000 each as survey fee. As of 7th May, 2016, the so-called vacant plot had been fenced off by possible owners.
“Subscribers in that meeting objected to the method of allocating plots and demanded proof of the title/ownership of the site by Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps Cooperatives. They demanded among others, proofs of a genuine title, Power of Attorney, Deed of Assignment and any other instrument that will serve as additional comfort to the subscribers. To this end, a motion was moved that a committee be set up to liaise with the Executive of NSCDC Cooperatives to investigate the authenticity of the said allocations.
“The subscribers’ committee met several times with the executive committee of the cooperative with clear demands on the issue of title/ownership documents. The Cooperative committee later produced 17 copies of Power of Attorney/Deed of Assignment and handed the copies to the subscribers’ committee.
“The subscribers’ committee were (sic) mandated by the general body to conduct a legal search on the general certificate and other title documents issued to them by the cooperative investment executive of Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps. Prior to the outcome of the search report, Civil Defence produced a questionable site plan that has 173 plots and gave it to the subscribers through its executive committee. See Ex.4. Meanwhile, the result of the search revealed that the Site shown to subscribers by the cooperative is encumbered. Ex.5.
“Having discovered this, the subscribers unanimously mandated the executive committee to write to the Cooperative Society of NSCDC, demanding explanation on the development. The letter was written, dispatched and acknowledged since 2nd March, 2016 but without any response till date. See copy of the letter as attached and marked Ex. 6.”
The petitioners demanded immediate allocation of unencumbered plots they paid for since 2010 to them or in the alternative, a refund of their money, “to the tune of the current value of land in the same area as subscribed since 2010.”
Also, they urged that officials of the NSCDC cooperative society should be investigated and those found culpable, prosecuted, while the account of the organization should be frozen, “to prevent unnecessary withdrawals.”
The sulking subscribers’ leader, Elder Agim, told Saturday Sun that they were yet to hear from the EFCC, the president and the other government functionaries on the petition. He said the planned protest march was put off because Police authorities told them that the venue was too close to the headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which at the time, was locked and was being guarded by policemen over a leadership tussle.
However, he hinted that a general meeting of the subscribers has been fixed for this weekend to enable them decide on the next line of action.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the FCT Command of the NSCDC, Mr. David Akinbinu, denied the involvement of the Command in the alleged shady land deal. However, he told Saturday Sun that the Corps personnel who were identified as the culprits had since been handed over to the ICPC for investigation and other necessary action. The NSCDC Command spokesman said the commandant at the time personally moved the suspects to the ICPC, and advised the subscribers to approach the Commission.
“I guess that they are being investigated by the ICPC. However, I am not hundred percent sure that those involved are still in service. We had told those who came to us on the matter to go to the ICPC”, he said.
The chairman of the cooperative unit, which is at the center of the scandal, Mr. Henry Ogbolo, when contacted, said he would not speak on the matter without permission from his colleagues.
His words: “I cannot just talk now. I have to obtain permission from my organization. You have to give me till maybe, Friday, to enable me get permission from my colleagues to talk about it.” But, calls put across to him subsequently, after the time he requested for, were not picked.
However, one Mr. Adewumi Adepoju, who identified himself as one of the subscribers accused some of his colleagues led by Elder Agim, of failure to “exhaust all avenues of dialogue”, an allegation the accused roundly described as baseless.
Adepoju, who recounted how he was able to procure similar plots at Sabo Lugbe from the NSCDC Cooperative unit, based on “my interaction with some of the officials”, told Saturday Sun that he was sure that subscribers to the El-Rufai dump site can still have their allocations within the next one month.
‑He words: “From what I know, the land for the 1000 subscribers is ready now and within the next one month, they can have access to the plots. I am also a subscriber there and I assure them that what I did in the case of Sabo Lugbe plots, I can still do there.
“My advice to the subscribers is that they should be patient for the next 30 days and they will occupy their plots. My suspicion is that all that has been going on is a ploy by the NSCDC to increase the price of the plots and transfer them to private developers to handle.”