Enugu’s Land Grabbing Crisis: Unveiling the Exploitative Woes as “Captain” Accused of Using Soldiers  Linked to Lagbaja Family in the Dirty Deal – NGIJ Investigation Reveals

The objective of this investigative story is to shed light on the intricate web of land grabbing in Nigeria and Enugu to be précised, its underlying causes, and the dire ramifications it has had on the Enugu state’s populace. By exposing the truth behind this exploitative phenomenon, we aim to provoke a sense of urgency among policymakers and society at large to take proactive measures to safeguard the rights of Nigerians and prevent further societal fragmentation.

By NGIJ Team

In recent years, Nigeria has been grappling with a pressing issue known as land grabbing, where land rights are violated and increasingly stripped away from local communities and vulnerable individuals. This contentious practice, often fuelled by powerful individuals, corporations, and government entities, has triggered a series of wide-ranging consequences, leading to social unrest, economic disparities, and ecological imbalances.

Land grabbing refers to the acquisition and conversion of communal or individual land without the consent of the rightful owners. This often involves displacement, coercive tactics, and the manipulation of legal loopholes by powerful actors seeking personal gain. While rooted in historical and cultural elements, the modern-day land grabbing crisis has been exacerbated by various socio-economic and political factors.

Land grabbing in Nigeria can be attributed to a multitude of causes, including population growth, rapid urbanization, inadequate land governance, corruption, insufficient legal frameworks, and a lack of proper policies safeguarding land tenure rights. Furthermore, weak land management systems and an absence of comprehensive land-use planning exacerbate the vulnerabilities of local communities.

The consequences of land grabbing are felt deeply at all levels of Nigerian society. Rural communities are particularly affected, as their agricultural land, the mainstay of their livelihoods, is seized for commercial purposes, leaving them impoverished and reliant on precarious alternatives. Displacement and loss of cultural heritage further deepen their despair.

Furthermore, the encroachment on forest reserves and fragile ecosystems for large-scale infrastructural projects, mining activities, and real estate developments lead to deforestation, habitat destruction, and ecological imbalances. These environmental losses escalate the risks of climate change, exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

As a media organization committed to the principles of truth and justice, the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists’ (NGIJ’s) investigative report aims to expose the dark underbelly of land grabbing in Nigeria.

Through thorough research, interviews with affected communities, legal experts, policymakers, and representatives from civil society, we aspire to provide comprehensive insights into the pain, suffering, and continued injustices arising from land grabbing practices.

Meanwhile, the objective of this investigative story is to shed light on the intricate web of land grabbing in Nigeria and Enugu to be précised, its underlying causes, and the dire ramifications it has had on the Enugu state’s populace. By exposing the truth behind this exploitative phenomenon, we aim to provoke a sense of urgency among policymakers and society at large to take proactive measures to safeguard the rights of Nigerians and prevent further societal fragmentation.

In Enugu

Land grabbing in Enugu State, South East of Nigeria has been in the news for quite a while. The victims, most often, are either the less privileged members of the society or persons who have fallen out of favour with the ruling elites in the state at one time or the other. Hapless members of some communities across the state have also been identified as victims.

 

Findings revealed that those used by the land grabbers in the state are mostly naive government officials who are manipulated or blackmailed to deceive successive state governors into carrying out the bidding of the land grabbing syndicate masquerading as real estate investors. In some instances, full government weight have been thrown behind the syndicate who manipulate government officials into the business, giving their actions some kind of legal backing in the eyes of the unsuspecting individuals, communities, and general public.

 

Those accused of involvement in the now booming business in the state include a former governor of the state, some traditional rulers, real estate developers, and individuals.

 

For instance, the people of Obollo-Afor in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State in a particular case fingered a former governor in a land grabbing case in a petition to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), accusing him of deceiving the people of the area to release a large expanse of their communal land, which they said measures over 70 hectares. The land was intended for public good but later, they alleged, it turned out that the former Governor had a different intentions. The petition to the IGP, dated December 21, 2023, was signed by the Donee, Power of Attorney, Oha Obollo in Council, Chief Matthew Agu.

 

It was said that the former governor had solicited for the large expanse of land for the establishment of a dry sea port in Obollo-Afor, a request that was granted on 9th August, 2015.

 

In another land grabbing case, the people of Owo community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State protested against their traditional ruler, Igwe Okeke Arum, and former President General, Mr. Okeke Akpu, over alleged “land grabbing” and “high-handedness”.

 

Eventhough, Owo is the country home of the Enugu State Governor, Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, the youth recently called on the State Government to end the alleged impunity of the traditional ruler and his cohorts before their actions trigger bloodbath.

In August 2023, the Umugadu village in Ezama Idi Opi, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State has accused a staff of a Nigerian Oil Company, Madu Nnaemeka of allegedly grabbing land and intimidating members of the community. The matter is currently a subject of litigation in a suit number: N/574/2023, which is now pending before the Nsukka High Court in the Enugu Judicial Division.

 

In another instance, the family of Umu Obunoko of Ihewuzhi, Ogui Nike Community in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State, last year, cried out over an illegal encroachment of their land, alleging that some government officials in the past administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi want to dispossess them of their family land.

 

The land, according to them, is known as “Amofia land in Asata River Layout”, located at a densely populated Ogui Nike community in Enugu North Local Government Area of the state. They said the land was shared among the family members some years ago.

The eldest son of Dr. Sam Anibueze, Barr. Chidubem Anibueze, who spoke to journalists, said “we are addressing you today because of some persons who were functionaries in the past government of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, wants to take over our family land.

 

In yet another case, the Obinagu and Eziachi communities of Ugwuoba in Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu State in 2022 appealed to the then Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to use his good offices to prevent a state agency from taking over their lands. The communities, which share common boundary with Amansea, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, alleged that they were on the verge of being removed from their ancestral land by the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC).

 

The elders of the Obinagu village that comprised of many aged person’s, led by a ninety-six year-old Mr. Boniface Igweze, spoke to newsmen, crying bitterly over alleged plans of the government agency to forcefully strip the community of ownership of 88.9 hectares of ancestral land.

 

On their part, Eziachi village joined in calling on the state governor to prevail on the ESHDC and stop the agency from alienating them from their land under the guise of developing ‘Ibrahim Abacha Estate’.

 

The list of land grabbing cases in Enugu State is almost endless; however, a new and frightening dimension to the booming illegal business of seizing lands underhandedly or unfairly in the state is the use of men in military uniforms, suspected to be from the Nigerian Army for land grabbing purposes.

 

This is has been on from the administration of former Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the man at the centre of this new abnormal in the business has been identified as Oke Hyacinth Ayogu who is also known as Okechukwu Ayogu, popularly known in government circles in the state as “Captain”.

 

His identity as Captain may not be unconnected to his suspected military background as an alleged Nigerian Army deserter, whose last known place of service is the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto.

 

He is said to have been leveraging on his military contacts to carry out his underhanded activities in the state, with a plan of expanding into other states in the country through his companies.

 

A preliminary investigation by the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ) into the business background of the man fingered as a land grabbing kingpin in the state, using soldiers, has been found to have a link to a member of the Lagbaja family.

 

Findings by the NGIJ linked Hymac Real Limited to one Abiodun Maria Lagbaja. The company, a real estate development and management company located in Enugu with interests in other parts of the country, is registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with RC – 1626583 was registered on October 22, 2019.

 

The man at the centre of several land grabbing cases in Enugu State, some of which has cases pending in courts is Mr Oke Hyacinth Ayogu, the Managing Director of Hymac Real Limitad.

 

Intriguingly, Hymac Real Limitad has a company listed as director. The company, Hyfield & Allied Associates Ltd, with RC – 1277117, was registered on July 29, 2015, about four years before Hymac Real Limitad was registered. The companies have No. 4, Edem Close, New Haven, Enugu as their registered address.

 

It was found that a member of Lagbaja family, Abiodun Maria Lagbaja was listed as a Director in a document obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as owners/Directors/key management of Hyfield & Allied Associates Ltd. From CAC information, it means that the Lagbaja family member, Abiodun Maria Lagbaja, has been a co-business owner with Mr Oke Hyacinth Ayogu for about nine years since 2015.

 

A further check by the Nigerian Guild Of Investigative Journalists showed that a similar name, Mrs Maria Abiodun Lagbaja, is the incumbent 23rd President of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) and wife of the Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja.

 

The NGIJ is yet to establish if Maria Abiodun Lagbaja is one and the same person as the wife of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja.

 

Also to be unearthed is whether the business relationship with a member of the Lagbaja family has any connection with the use of soldiers for demolition of properties belonging to victims of Mr Ayogu’s alleged land grabbing cases.

 

However, in view of the continued use of men in military uniforms to dispossess hapless residents of Enugu State of their properties, the NGIJ Team is working to establish whether the said Maria Abiodun Lagbaja is one and the same person as the wife of the Chief of Army Staff as efforts are ongoing to reach the NAOWA president and has not been fruitful at the time of compiling this preliminary report on coercive takeover of properties by syndicates in the state.

 

While the NGIJ Team is also determined to unravel the mysteries behind the deployment of soldiers as escorts and in the services of a man suspected to be an Army deserter, who has been caught on videos with soldiers, it has so far remained uncertain the extent of “Captain’s” relationship with the Nigerian Army Chief or other top military officers in the country.

 

But a recent memo by a former Commissioner for Lands And Urban Development in the state to the incumbent Governor, Dr Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, which was sighted by NGIJ Team, detailed how “Captain (Oke Hyacinth Ayogu) defrauded the Enugu State Government of over N1.5 billion using his close contact with the Nigerian Army.

 

Full details of the memo is withheld by the NGIJ Team at the moment as it is still a subject of investigative analysis, however, “Captain”, who is said to be making frantic efforts, at the time of this preliminary report to enroll into the Nigerian Law School and work his way to the Law School in Enugu for obvious reasons, has continued to boast of his military connections, claiming to be a military spy in South East, particularly Enugu State.

 

The memo to Governor Mbah unambiguously established that Mr. Ayogu uses his military contacts to get close to government officials, manipulates and penetrates them, in order to get government “secrets” and use them in his interest, “irrespective of whose ox is gored”.

 

The memo noted that “Captain” has the capacity to “set the whole government ablaze and bring it down before 2027”, recommending measures to avert the looming danger of the type of crises that happened in Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s government in October 2021.

 

Recall that a Commissioner for Lands And Urban Development under the administration of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi resigned unceremoniously, citing government actions for quitting. But it is now widely believed that the main reason for the commissioner’s resignation was not unconnected with the activities of “Captain” in the Ministry of Lands And Urban Development, where it was alleged that Mr. Ayogu used his contacts in the ministry to loot official files of targeted lands and properties to favour his interests.

 

It was found that such files are usually “destroyed” and he would find a way to convince naive Land Commissioners to revoke the allocations for the targeted plots for forced acquisition. Such plots, despite the buildings on them or the ownership are usually designated as “free, undeveloped, and have no traceable records”, making their revocation and re-allocation to Hymac Real Limited and Mr. Ayogu an easy task. Demolition of such properties were usually carried out with full “government presence” and enforced by “security agencies”, including men in military uniforms.

 

In an interesting case among several identified victims of Captain’s land grabbing venture in the state, the owners Plots P/23C and Plots P/23E, part of which originally belonged to former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani under the title RAINBOWNET, with sizes estimated to be 6,500sqrm each, the plots were taken over by Mr. Ayogu.

 

It was gathered that the file numbers at the Enugu State Ministry of Lands are 23748/T/11 and 23911/T/11. They are referred to as “Temporary files” as “Captain” was accused of using “insiders” in the ministry to “destroy” the original RAINBOWNET File, the original title.

 

Part of the above plots was allocated to the Nigerian Society of Engineers Enugu Branch and a lawyer and retired Immigration Officer, Barr. Okey Ezugwu but the properties have since been demolished.

However, in an SoS (Save our Souls) letter to their national secretariat in Abuja, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Enugu State branch, described the demolition of its branch by the “state government” as ‘unlawful’.

 

In a letter dated August 4, 2023, and signed by its Chairman, Engr. Chigbo Obealor, MNSE and Secretary, Engr. Nneka Nwagugu, MNSE, the professional body narrated the process through which they acquired the property on which the building stood, through the former Governor Sullivan Chime.

 

It also went into details on how a Mr. Oke Hyacinth Ayogu, the managing director of Hymac Real Limited, made claims to the property, including other plots within the neighborhood, threatening to demolish all buildings therein.

 

According to the Enugu State branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the foundation stone of the building was laid by the immediate past Governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was represented by the then Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. G.O.C. Ajah on August 24, 2016.

 

A photocopy of an allocation receipt for the plot showed that a payment was made by the Nigerian Society of Engineers on April 11, 2011.

 

The SoS letter referenced NSE/EB/EC/2022/A005 and addressed to the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Gidari-Wudil Tasiu Saad, FNSE, titled Report of The Unlawful Demolition of The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Enugu Branch’s Engineering Centre, Plot 23/C At Independence Layout, Enugu, By The Government Of Enugu State on 18th July, 2023, read:

 

“We are owners of plot P/23C and have developed the property. The property was allotted to us during the tenure of Barr. Sullivan Chime as the governor of Enugu State Government, Ref: LEN: 21461/1/33 on 30th July, 2010, and we have fulfilled all the requirements in pursuant to sections 5a & 9 of the Land Use Act for the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy.

 

Sometime in late July, 2021, a trespasser, Mr. Oke Hyacinth Ayogu, managing director of Hymac Real Ltd, made claims to our land and property, including other adjoining plots within the neighborhood, and also threatening to demolish all the structures including our Engineering Centre building. He came in with an entirely different survey plan different from what the government issued to us in 2011. We resisted him and in 1st August, 2021, we reported the matter to relevant security offices. He later took us to court on the 16th of August, 2021. Our legal team in defense, put up a counterclaim against the plaintiffs and the case is still in the High Court vide suit no. E/658/2021.

 

On the 27th January, 2022, the Attorney General of Enugu State joined as the 9th defendant by order of court. The Attorney-General, in his written address to the court, stated as follows:

 

That by virtue of the Land Use Act, the Governor of Enugu State has the power to grant right of occupancy and certificate of occupancy to allottees of land vested in him: he also has the power to delegate such power.

 

That the plaintiffs/Respondents purport to have been allotted the land in dispute and certificate of occupancy issued to them by the Commissioner for lands, Enugu State.

 

That the Governor of Enugu State did not grant any certificate of occupancy over the land in dispute to the plaintiffs.

 

That the Governor of Enugu State did not delegate or authorize any officer in his government to issue any certificate of occupancy in respect of the land in dispute to the plaintiffs.

 

That I know as a matter of fact that the Governor of Enugu State delegates his power to issue certificate of occupancy by prior written delegation which was not none in this case.

 

The plaintiff later appealed the ruling of the High Court and the case is in Appeal Court case file Appeal No. CA/E/73/2022.

 

On 6th April, 2023, we made application Ref: NSE/EC/MOL/2023/A001 to the Hon. Comm, Enugu state ministry of lands in pursuant to sections 5a & 9 of the Land Use Act, to issue forthwith, Certificate of Occupancy to the Applicant, The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Enugu Branch, having complied with all the necessary conditions president. All avenues to get official response from the office proved abortive till date.

Demolition Order by the Government of Enugu State

While these cases are in courts (with Enugu State Government as Co-Respondents in the law suits) at about 4.00 pm on Friday, 14th July, 2023, we receive report that Enugu State Government marked our property for demolition with 48 hours’ notice and mobilized for demolition at about 6.00pm same day. The Branch Executive committee and other members of the Branch rushed to our Engineering Center venue and resisted the planned demolition that night. We immediately petitioned the Governor of Enugu State, Secretary to the State Government, Solicitor general and the Admin, Enugu Capital Territory Authority. (See attached)

 

We also requested and was given audience by the (SSG) Secretary to Enugu State Government to join in the stakeholders meeting in his office at 10.00am on 17th July, 2023 as a result of the above issue in reference. The meeting was chaired by (SSG) Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, and the Solicitor General of Enugu State; Barr. Victor Emeribe, the Chief of Staff; Barr. Victor Udeh and other representatives of the government were also in attendance.

 

All the stakeholders (as contained in the court summons) were given ten (10) minutes each to present her case, and afterwards, several questions were asked especially on the different survey plans presented and on the revocation / allotment by the government of Enugu State. The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Enugu Branch, made representation through 1, Engr. Chigbo Obealor; Chairman, Engr. Dr. Uchenwa Ujam. FNSE, Immediate Past Chairman, Engr. Bartholomew Edeh. FNSE, Chairman Emeritus and Eng. Okechukwu Ugwu; Secretary, Engineering Centre Land Committee.

 

After due deliberations on the demolition order by the Enugu State Government, the SSG directed that the meeting was not to undermine the courts processes and it was for the government to have clear picture of the matter and therefore:

 

Directed all parties to stay actions pending the outcome of the court proceedings and / or out of court peaceful resolution of the matter with Enugu State Government.

 

The state government, in furtherance of the above, never asked us to vacate the land and property which we occupied sincerely 2010, and have committed millions of naira in materials and labour to the Engineering Centre building. We are in courts with Enugu State Government as Co-Respondents in the suits.

 

At about 10.00am on 18th July, 2023, demolition of our Engineering Center commenced by the directives of the State Government. We lack words to express the shock and unimaginable betrayal of trust from the highly esteemed office of SSG, under the leadership of a Professor of sterling international pedigree whose word stands. We took him by his word and could not describe the grief and torture we were subjected to, as we watch the Enugu state government pull down the Engineering Centre building in less than 24 hours of our cordial meeting with the Enugu state government.

 

Our concern is the arbitrary pulling down of Engineering Centre building where we have spent over N380m already. It is a question of putting on hold our Enugu Branch’s 60th Anniversary celebrations billed for that venue and for which we have invited international guests, some of whom have made travel arrangements. It is about the trauma, the mental shock and anguish arising from sudden demolition of a structure built over the years.

 

Assuming, without conceding that we built on a site intended for some other use. We still would be entitled to an alternative plot and compensation for resources expended by us BECAUSE we built on an area allotted to us by government. If there was an error, it is the error of the government and we should not suffer for it.

 

After due consultation and deliberations on the arbitrary and illegal demolition and forceful occupation of our property, and with due weight to the advice of our legal team, we have on the 21st of July, 2024 issued a pre-action notice to the Enugu State Government.

 

We have spent over five (N5,000,000.00k) million naira on litigation and still have a balance of N10,000,000.00k to pay. As it’s, we are soliciting for financial assistance to pursue the cases in court.

 

Find attached for your perusals and actions, the Enugu Engineering Centre land documents, litigation documents, site photographs, pre action notice letter and other correspondences.

 

Our prayer:

The President, Nigerian Society of Engineers is respectfully requested to call on the attention of the Federal Government and other agencies to put an end to the executive recklessness of the Enugu State Government, and to ensure that justice is done by releasing our plot of land and the payment of collateral damages perpetrated on the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Enugu Branch.

 

Accept the assurance of our highest admiration.

 

Demolition of Property Belonging To A Retired Assistant Comptroller-General Of Immigration And Lawyer

 

In a news report on the demolition of the property of the second allottee, Mr. Okey Ezugwu, titled “Enugu State Government Deploys Soldiers to Demolish Property Belonging to Retired Assistant Comptroller-General of Immigration as Ezugwu Laments Manhandling”, the victim alleged “I was confidently told that the soldiers were approved for him by the Chief of Army Staff”.

 

The land located in Independence Layout was allocated to Ezugwu by former Governor Sullivan Chime and he subsequently issued with a certificate of occupancy (C of O) in 2014 but the Governor Peter Mbah-led Enugu State government demolished a building on the plot in a manner described by many witnesses as “land grabbing” by the authorities.

 

The case, which is a subject of ongoing litigation, has been tied to allege multiple issuances of Certificates of Occupancy to one landed property by former Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led administration.

 

According to the report, Sullivan Chime administration allocated Plot P/23CD Independence Layout, to Chief Ezugwu, and issued C of O in 2014 with File No: GAL/08031 and Certificate Number 011910.

But Ugwuanyi’s administration allocated Plot 23C to Oke Hyacinth Ayogu and his company Hymac Real Ltd in 2021 with a C of O was issued regardless. While Mr. Ayogu and his company had gone to court to challenge the allocation of the property to Barr. Ezugwu and others in 2014, he later abandoned the court case after the state government filed a motion for joinder in the suit which was granted by the trial judge and allegedly procured soldiers from “Army headquarters to terrorise Ezugwu and his family.”

 

The report added that after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arrested Mr. Ayogu for trespassing on the property, he waited until Governor Peter Mbah was inaugurated as governor of Enugu State and Governor Mbah through the Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) on July 14, 2023 went and marked Ezugwu’s house for demolition. They gave him 48 hours to remove the house, despite the matter still pending in Court.

While Hymac Real and Ayogu claimed that they were allocated Plot 23C, the other plot, Plot 23CD own by the retired Immigration officer was also demolished alongside Plot 23C where the Nigeria society of Engineers’ office building was located.
It is believed that “Captain” have not paid for the so-called allocation of Plot 23C but was alleged to have only generated allocation receipts.

Nevertheless, while narrating his ordeal in the report, Barr Ezugwu said, “On Monday Hyacinth Ayogu came with soldiers and some officials of ECTDA and brutalized my workers. They equally brutalized me and when I reached out to 82DV of the Nigerian Army I was told that they are not in control of the soldiers that came to my house to brutalize me and my workers. I was confidently told that the soldiers were approved for him (Ayogu) by the Chief of Army Staff.”

 

He added, “Sensing that the CCTV in my house recorded their brutality they went and carted away all the CCTV and my phones. They flushed everything in the phone before returning it but they are still with my CCTV cameras. After the incident the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Chidiebere Onyia invited all the parties and I showed him all my documents and allocation papers.

 

“Unfortunately, this morning the Okeh Hyacinth Ayogu rolled out caterpillars and excavators to my house and demolished my property. I am distressed that such impunity could take place in my own State under this administration. It is difficult for me to fathom the conspiracy behind the whole thing. I have my allocation papers and C of O to the property. I have always paid my ground rent. I am a very loyal citizen of the State. The Governor is our father and our brother and I am using this medium to plead with him to take a passionate look at my case. I have tremendous respect for the new administration.”

 

It was gathered that the said Oke Hyacinth Ayogu is an ally of the incumbent Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof Chidiebere Onyia. This was also established in the said memo by the former land Commissioner under Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration.

Ayogu Of Hymac Real Limited And N20n Ozalla Abor Community Land Case

Sometimes in 2021, the Enugu Housing Corporation desired to acquire a large expanse of land measuring over 100 Hectares at Villa Estate, Ozalla Abor, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. From the blues, according to available information, the self-acclaimed Army “Captain”,

Mr. Ayogu, who claimed to be working for the then GOC 82 Division, approached the community to discourage them from offering that expanse of land to the government through Enugu Housing Corporation.

 

As at the time Mr Ayogu, the MD of Hymac Real Ltd, who claimed to be a lawyer, Pastor and an Army officer, was believed to be closely working with the then GOC of the 82 Division of Nigerian Army as an informant or spy, and is still seen moving in the company of armed soldiers, was said to had convinced the representatives of the community to work with him against Enugu State Housing Corporation.

 

The representatives of the community at the time were Mr. Chukwuka Ugwu, Mr John Onyechi, Mr Ferdinand Agbo, Mr Uche Njeze and others.

 

The deal was that Mr Ayogu will buy approximately 8 Hectares worth about two billion Naira from the community under a staggered payment plan payable upon successful completion of Mr. Ayogu’s agreed brief which entailed using his influence in the army to stop the Enugu State Government and Enugu State Housing Development Corporation from acquiring the said land.

 

Mr Ayogu demanded that community must as a sign of commitment pay to him the sum of N20 Million as Logistics/Facilitation fee in order to enable him commence the brief of wading off the Enugu State Government from the said land, which the community obliged.

 

With the N20 Million received in trust Mr. Ayogu prepared title documents to transfer the proposed 8 Hectares of land to his company name, then invited the representatives of the community to his office for a meeting. In that meeting, he allegedly brought in armed soldiers to intimidate and bully the representatives of the community into signing the title documents, telling them that the order was from the Army Headquarters. Scared to their marrow, they had no option than to sign the said title documents, and Mr. Ayogu was said to have hurriedly registered the title documents at the Enugu Ministry of Lands, using his contacts.

 

The community accused Mr. Ayogu of not paying Ozalla Abor community or anyone any dime over that land.

 

It was said that the pivot of Mr Ayogu’s alleged fraud is that he always parades himself to be an associate of the current Chief of Army Staff, who was the then GOC of 82 Division. Late 2021, to the disappointment of the Community, the then GM of Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Mr Chukwuemelie Agu, started their development activities on the said ‘Army’ land which they called CONQUEST ESTATE, using a company Called Tochel Construction LTD, owned by one Mr. Tochukwu Nzekwe.

 

Not long, the community realized that the Conquest Estate included the said 8 Hectares purportedly sold to Mr Ayogu by them. The discovery gave rise to a serious running battle between Mr Chukwuemetie Agu, GM of Housing Corporation, Mr Tochukwu Nzekwe, MD of Tochei Construction against Mr Ayogu, MD of Hymac Real Limited lasting over two years.

 

However, Mr. Ayogu was said to have succeeded in using the Army to scare away the community from the land while he took possession by fencing it round and when the current administration of Governor Peter Mba came into power, the Government realized the feud between the Enugu Housing development corporation, Mr. Ayogu and the Ozaila Abor Community, they set up a committee chaired by the Solicitor General, Barr Victor Emeribe. However, it was gathered that the Emeribe Committee’s report was suppressed by “Captain” Ayogu, using his influence on the incumbent SSG.

 

Findings reveal that Mr. Ayogu is in possession of the said land having title documents from both Ozaila Abor and Enugu State Housing Development Corporation. The land is approximately 130 plots, and he is currently selling the land at 8 Million Naira per plot.

 

In another development, a former commissioner in Enugu State, Barr Ozo Joe Mmamel on his part recently begged Governor Peter Mbah to carry out a detailed investigation into claims of land grabbing at a layout adjacent the abandoned Enugu International Conference Centre over disputes on a parcel of land alloted to eleven allottees in 2014, by Enugu State government under the leadership of Barr. Sullivan Chime allotted some parcels of land.

 

Also, Civil society groups, including the Save Enugu Group (SEG), have in recent times raised the alarm over the activities of Oke Hyacinth Ayogu and his company, Hymac Real Ltd, and his use of soldiers for land grabbing in the state.

 

Some Publications on the issue

1.Nigerian Army, Secret Police, DSS Investigate Hymac Real MD Over Alleged Impersonation 

https://saharareporters.com/2023/11/14/nigerian-army-secret-police-dss-investigate-hymac-real-md-over-alleged-impersonation

2.Nigeria Engineers Union Condemns Demolition Multi-Million Naira Engineering Centre 

https://saharareporters.com/2023/08/08/nigeria-engineers-union-condemns-demolition-multi-million-naira-engineering-centre

3. Land Grab: Why NBA Must Stop Gov Mbah
https://thenigerialawyer.com/land-grab-why-nba-must-stop-gov-mbah-by-senior-lawyer/

4. Interview: How Enugu Govt Destroyed My-Multi-million Investment Ex-Immigration Chief Ezugwu

https://dailypost.ng/2023/07/24/interview-how-enugu-govt-destroyed-my-multi-million-investment-ex-immigration-chief-ezugwu/

5. How ‘Captain’ Mr Okechukwu Ayogu Of Hymac Real LTD Defrauded Ozalla Abor Community Of N20M, 8 Hectares Of Land Worth Over N2B

https://gists9ja.com.ng/2024/01/12/how-captain-mr-okechukwu-ayogu-of-hymac-real-ltd-defrauded-ozalla-abor-community-of-n20m-8-hectares-of-land-worth-over-n2

Prime Times

Abdulrahman Aliagan is an Abuja-based seasoned Journalist with close to two decades of uninterrupted practice in Journalism, a PR Expert, a Development Coach and a Media Crisis Management Consultant.
A holder of Bachelor degree in History, a graduate of International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Jahi, Abuja, he is well trained in various aspects of modern day Journalism including Digital Media and Solution Journalism.
Aliagan is a member of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and is currently the National Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ).

Previous Post
Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com