“The man boasted that the land belongs to a certain General. He said everybody knew… I asked him for evidence, but he couldn’t tender any.”
A Lagos-based businessman, Mr. Jude Chizoba has raised the alarm that his life is no longer safe. He is accusing a retired General of threatening to kill him over three plots of land.
Both Chizoba and Gen. C. O. Ugwu (retd) are claiming the land, located at Victory Estate, in Okota, Lagos. In fact, the General insisted that he had bought the said parcels of land long before Chizoba came into the picture.
Chizoba informed the reporter that he now lives in constant fear, claiming that Ugwu had vowed to end his life if he continued to lay claim to the land.
He showed the reporter various documents obtained from the Directorate of Land Bureau, Lagos State Government after allegedly buying the land on July 28, 2011.
Chizoba told Daily Sun that he had obtained all the necessary documents from the state government, including the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode since April 3, 2016, with Plan No. 60/60/2016c. He is also challenging Ugwu and his associates to produce any valid evidence to prove that they are the rightful owners of the land.
But in his response, Ugwu told the reporter on the telephone that he was ready to go to any length to defend what he claimed rightfully belongs to him. He said he bought the land in 2009 while he was still in active service, and would not fold his arms to allow anyone to arm-twist him and collect it from him.
While decrying threats to his life from the said General since the land tussle began about a year ago, Chizoba said he had spent over N5 million on the land after his initial payment of about N18 million to purchase the land.
On how he got the land, he said he applied to be part of a Lagos State government scheme called Lagos Building and Investment Company (LBIC) and he was given the allocation having satisfied all the requirements.
A document made available to Daily Sun, dated July 29, 2011 and signed by the Executive Secretary of Land Use and Allocation Committee, Hakeem Muri-Okunola reads in part: “We are pleased to inform you that after due consideration of your application, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, has approved that the land be allocated to you in accordance with the Land Policy of the Lagos State Government. Location – Okota, size of land – three plots and terms of lease – 99 years.”
He said having made all the necessary payments, the state surveyors took him to the estate and showed him his own portion of land. After then, he said he periodically went to the site to clear the bushes on the land. According to Chizoba, this continued for years, and no one challenged or claimed ownership of the land.
“I didn’t have enough money to start developing the land immediately. But l kept my eyes on it because of land grabbers who could emanate from nowhere. To my surprise, someone called me in April this year and asked if l was the one that dropped trips of sand there.
“I ran there immediately. I explained to the person l met there who happened to be an agent to who was building on the land. I advised him to stop further development on the land so that we could resolve it according to the facts on ground. But the man boasted that the land belongs to a certain General. He said everybody knew that the General owns the land. I asked him for evidence, but he couldn’t tender any.
“They kept bringing more trips of sand to sand fill the place because it is a waterlogged area. The General went as far placing military signage on the land, which read “Military Zone: Keep Off”.
“When l later got the General’s telephone number after some months, he threatened me not go near the plot. He even sent me a text message where he threatened to deal with me if l did not leave the land for him.
“Sequel to the foregoing, l have not been living in peace for the fear of being trailed to the house or elsewhere by the fierce-looking military men who the General always brings to the site,” Chizoba said.
Chizoba alleged that he had deposited 500 blocks on the land, but noted that the blocks were crushed by the General and his soldiers, and were used to fill the plot.
A text message he showed the reporter that was allegedly sent to him by Ugwu, read: “Mr. Jude why are you looking for my trouble. Please stay away from my property and tell those using you that the Gen. cannot be intimidated. This is my last warning. Luckman is just putting you forward into what will swallow you. Be wise.”
Chizoba’s lawyers are, however, not keeping quiet on the matter. In a petition by the lawyers, Ezealor Osu of Ezealor Osu and Associates, dated October 29, they noted: “That our client, being civil about this, has reported the matter to the Commissioner for Ministry of Physical Planning, Chairman, Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Office of the Attorney General, Lagos State Ministry of Justice and State CID, Panti who are investigating the matter.
“Though this matter had been reported at these quarters above, the General has kept brandishing his service pistol each time he is at the property with some uniformed army personnel. He boasted that he would get whatever he wants as a General.
“The General said he bought the said plots before our client whom the government had issued with a CofO. That he sold the land to the people now building on the said land.
“The Army, especially the officers’ cadre have been known and respected for their discipline, comportment and obedience to the rule of law.”
Chizoba added: “I later discovered that the General sold the land to a certain woman. The woman later told me that she had no problem with me, that l should contact the General to resolve whatever controversy that might be surrounding the land. I tried to explain to her that ownership of land is not by mere pronouncement but that it is backed with documents from the appropriate authorities.
She refused to heed to my advice and went on to develop the land,” Chizoba said.
Meanwhile, investigation revealed that the woman who bought the land from Ugwu has built and roofed
the house, while Chizoba watched helplessly. But he has vowed to use every legal means to reclaim his property from the hands of his alleged oppressors.
While interacting with the reporter, the General said: “What is the problem with this man? He has taken me to the Office of Land Grabbers, taken me to Panti Police Station. Whether you publish anything or not, it doesn’t concern me, as far as I have papers for my six plots.
“He is claiming that the state government gave him three plots out of my six plots, but government doesn’t have any land in that place. Government can never give someone three plots at a go in a residential place. This person that is taking me to everywhere thought I would not appear, but I’m ready for him because the land is mine. These are land grabbers at work; it is just because I have not used soldiers to grab him.
“I have even sold part of the land and the buyer has almost completed her building on it. I can follow him to anywhere to defend the land.
“Why should I threaten to kill him? That is a lie. The first time I saw him was when he took me to the Special Task Force Office on Land Grabbing. Before then, I went to the land on a particular day and asked him to please come for us to discuss, but he refused and said I would kill him. I have been seeing him since, have l killed him”?
Chizoba, however, countered him and disclosed that he had evidence to prove in the court that the General was after his life.