A US-based Nigerian businessman was dazed in Lagos, when land agents led him to the lagoon after the part-payment for 150 plots offered for N787.5 million.
Kennedy Chukwuemeka Nwabuoku told detectives led by DCP Abutu Yaro, at the Force Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (FCIID), Alagbon, how he had paid N577, 590, 792 in installments among other charges, plus another N18million for bush clearing in February, and how the agents were sending him pictures and videos of caterpillars in action at the purported site at Ifedele Agunbiade Village, Sangotedo, in Eti-Osa area of Lagos.
Nwabuoku told the police that he bought the unseen land with a foreign partner and had paid in fiduciary trust, sending monies on different occasions through his company, KenBouk Global Investment Ltd.
Identified as Emeka Okoronkwo and Michael Owolabi Alonge, the agents, according to Nwabuoku, had offered the land for sale at N5, 250, 000 per plot with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
NewsmakersNG learnt that members of Nwabuoku’s family in Nigeria who wanted to see the site were told that the land was in an area bought by prominent Nigerians like former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Oba Riliwanu Akiolu, and it was cordoned off so that ordinary citizens could not gain access.
When he became suspicious, Nwabuoku sent the C of O to a friend to verify, and the friend found that no such land or location described in the document existed.
He decided to visit Nigeria and inspect the land for which he had paid the property agent, Okoronkwo, who was identified as owner of Kings Court Realtors at Plot 321A, Akin Ogunlewe Street, Victoria Island.
When he was quizzed by the police on November 8, 2017, Okoronkwo allegedly admitted that he collected N603, 000, 000 for 100 plots, agency fees and legal fees through transfers to Kings Court Realtors’ accounts in two banks.
Detectives found that Nwabuoku transferred the monies in the following order over a period: N229, 000, 000, N86, 000, 000, N120, 000, 000, N41, 300, 000, N11, 291, 000, and N90, 000, 000.
They also found that the C of O given to Nwabuoku is a fake one, and that Alonge who introduced him to Okoronkwo “masterminded the fraud”.
According to the detectives, fictitious persons were listed in the Deed of Assignment that the suspected fraudsters also gave to Nwabuoku.
When Nwabuoku arrived and insisted he must see the site before further payments, Alonge allegedly took him to a location far inside a wooded area that led to the lagoon with canoes going back and forth. “Mr Michael Owolabi Alonge started pointing around and towards the lagoon, as if he was not sure where the land is anymore,” Nwabuoku stated in his petition to the police.
When Nwabuoku, who had been given no receipt, asked for a refund, he said that the suspects had threatened to kill him if he fails to keep quiet on the transaction.
Detectives have completed their investigation and the matter has been charged to court with Sgt Morufu Animashaun as police lawyer.
NewsmakersNG learnt that Alonge is on the run.
There was an arrest warrant for Okoronkwo who allegedly received the payments, and he will appear in court on December 5.
The case is pending before Chief Magistrate (Mrs) Abimbola Komolafe of Magistrate Court 3, Igbosere, in Lagos.