The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigation into allegations of forgery, fraudulent conversion and obtaining the sum of N400 million by false pretence against Adeyeye Ogunwusi and his firm, Metropole Interproject Limited, The Punch is reporting.
Ogunwusi is one of the contestants for the vacant stool of the Ooni of Ife in Ile Ife, Osun State.
In a petition written by the chambers of Rotimi Jacobs & Co., dated September 7, 2015, Messrs Sijuwade Holdings Limited stated that in 1993, it purchased a parcel of land measuring 30,000 square metres from the Ojomu Chieftaincy Family at the Lekki peninsula, Lagos, and duly obtained the Governor’s Consent to the transaction.
Thereafter, SHL claimed it entered into an agreement with Metropole Interproject Limited for the latter to sand-fill the entire parcel of land, and that upon completion of the sand filling, Metropole would be given 7,500 square metres from the land “to serve as the company’s fees.”
The petition stated that after the completion of the sand-filling, Metropole offered to develop the remaining portion of land for SHL, adding that the offer was accepted on the condition that the development would be in phases.
The responsibilities of Metropole as stated in the Development Mandate Agreement included the funding of the development and procurement of all necessary permits from the federal and Lagos State governments; as well as the funding/construction of 24 duplex units on the 7,500 square metres and this was to form the basis of Metropole’s equity in the project entitling the developer to 16 units out of the 24.
The petition stated: “Our client (Sijuwade Holdings) gave Mr. Ogunwusi the title document (which was in our client’s name), including the tax clearance of two directors to process the necessary permits required for the construction. After the completion of phase 1, our client requested copies of the approvals and consent, but Mr. Ogunwusi refused to provide them.
“Our client engaged the services of a town planner (TG Marchnata) to conduct a search at the offices of the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority. The town planner got copies of all the documents submitted by Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole for the purposes of procuring the building permits for the construction.
“To our client’s surprise, the search revealed that Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole had forged the title documents by superimposing the name of Metropole Interproject Limited as a co-owner of the parcel of land. The signature of Professor Olawoyin, SAN, who prepared the title document was also forged by Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole.
“Mr. Ogunwusi also submitted a forged Certificate of Incorporation with the name: Metropole Interproject & Sijuwade Holdings Limited. He also forged some documents belonging to the Lagos State Government and uttered same to the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority.”
The petition further stated: “Meanwhile, before our client got to know about the fraudulent activities of Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole, our client had, in line with the agreement it had with Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole, issued title in favour of Metropole and its nominees for the units due to the company.
“Apart from the forgery earlier complained about, Mr. Ogunwusi/Metropole has also sold the eight duplex units that ought to have accrued to our client and he converted the proceeds, running into N400m, to his personal use.”
The petitioner, therefore, asked the EFCC to investigate the circumstances under which the title documents were allegedly forged.
In a letter with reference CR:3000/LS/EGC-1/VOL. 6/409 and dated September 17, 2015, the EFCC asked the legal firm of Olawoyin & Olawoyin to confirm if the agreement allegedly submitted by Metropole for the building permits was prepared by the firm.
The EFCC’s letter was signed by one Abubakar R. Madaki on behalf of the Head of Operations, and stated that the request was made pursuant to Section 38 (1) (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004; and Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012.
While responding to the EFCC request, Olawoyin & Olawoyin stated in a letter dated September 23, 2015, “We wish to state that the agreement (a copy of which was attached to your letter under reference) was NOT prepared by our firm. We have taken the liberty to attach to this letter a copy of the actual document that was prepared by our firm and draw your attention to the following differing aspects of the agreement:
(a) The front page of the agreement attached to your letter contains Metropole Interproject Limited as a party to the agreement of sale, while in the actual document prepared by our firm, Metropole Interproject Limited is not a party.
(b) The signature on the front page of the actual document prepared by our firm is that of the undersigned, Prof. Gabriel Olawoyin, SAN, while the signature attached to the front page of the document attached to your letter is NOT that of Prof. Gabriel Olawoyin.
(c) Page 1 of the agreement prepared by our firm does NOT make any reference to Metropole Interproject Limited, while the document attached to your letter makes reference to Metropole Interproject Limited.”
When contacted to authenticate the content of the petition, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs of Rotimi Jacobs & Co. confirmed that his firm sent the petition to the EFCC on behalf of Sijuwade Holdings, but refused to comment further.
Similarly, Olawoyin confirmed his firm’s response to the request by the EFCC but declined further comments.
Ogunwusi, on his part, denied the allegations levied against him and Metropole Interproject Limited, saying he was being maliciously targeted for negative press because of his interest in the vacant stool of the Ooni.
He said: “Why are they trying to write damaging reports about me now and why not two, three years ago? The heart of man is full of wickedness. What they are saying is a lie; we have resolved it. They are using it to smear my name.
“Oba Akiolu (of Lagos) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are aware of the issue. We have resolved it and I don’t know why they are doing this. It is a lie that I put Metropole Interproject Limited as a co-owner of the land; they are trying to expose what they are not; if they chose to fight dirty, I will meet them.”
Ogunwusi later made a conference call to a man purported to be Prince Deremi Sijuwade, who said: “I heard something about the petition and I will say it should be discountenanced. I am not sure those things written in the petition are correct; we will come up with an official statement in that regard.”
The head of the kingmakers and the Obalufe of Iremo quarter, Ile-Ife, Oba Solomon Omisakin, when contacted on the telephone by one of our correspondents, said he was not aware that a petition had been written to the EFCC against Ogunwusi or any of the contestants for the throne.
“I am not aware of such a petition. It is not to my knowledge,” he said.
Asked if the kingmakers could use such a petition to screen out the contestant, Omisakin stated: “Until I get to know, I won’t make any comment.”
Ogunwusi had on September 19 distributed transformers worth N250 million to some communities in Ile-Ife, which had been in darkness for a long period due to faulty transformers.
Leke Ijiyode, who represented him at the ceremony, said Ogunwusi did not distribute the transformers in order to be selected as the next Ooni, but because he had been involved in philanthropic gestures in the community before now.
He said the contestant had been involved in assisting indigenes of Ile-Ife in tertiary institutions and other forms of humanitarian services long before the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade.