By Albert Akpor
The harrowing experience of Kenneth Chuks Eze, a 60 -year-old Journalist turned business man who thought of diversifying from the usual newsroom ‘madness’ to industrialization is not only shocking, but a warning signal to those seeking to acquire land in any part of Lagos state to be cautious.
The Awka Etiti -born prolific reporter who practiced with the likes of Messrs Okwudili Okonkwo, Editor of rested Access Magazine and Okwara Luke, Editor-in-Chief of SME Magazines in the late70s , had bought some portion of land somewhere in Egbeda, Lagos for the purpose of his business plans but unknown to him, he was on a critical mission; a mission that almost took his life.
Trouble started for him when in 1991, he bought about 20 plots of land situated along Abule-Egba area of the state and did not start building immediately for lack of funds. Fortune took the Journalist overseas to seek for greener pastures.
He however came back few years later with a view to commence the development of the site. But that was the beginning of his sad story. He had gone to the site with some laborers on the fateful day only for men in uniforms to invade the site, chase away his workers, and held him hostage there at the site.
He was given the beaten of his life, hauled into a waiting van and taken away to an unknown destination. He was later to wake up at the office of the then Commanding Officer (CO), Western Naval Command, Apapa Lagos.
After, all the beating, I inquired to know what was my offense only to be told that I was grooming armed robbers at the site. I told the officer that I could not have been doing that having just returned from Europe and a practicing journalist. I told him I had all the documents including deed of assignment.
The CO stopped and asked if I was a journalist and I answered in the affirmative. He gave them money to buy me new dress, asked me to go and take my bath there in the dockyard and gave six officers to take me home with an apology that he was wrongly informed about my person.
I went further to tell him that the land in question belong to me and that I bought it from Chief (Mrs.) V.I. Akerele, (now late) who upon introduction to me during the bargain by his lawyer, Mr. Bodunri Adewole, disclosed to me that she and her husband stayed in my father’s house in Onitsha in the 50s. The naval officer became sober and allowed me to go.
Weeks later we started work at the site without disturbance. But one of the days, we were at the site, another group of people arrived there and started chasing my workers away again, and when I demanded to know the reason behind their action, they descended on me after they asked if I was the one called Chuks.
They beat me and stripped me naked. I woke up later in a forest in Sango Otta; tied to a tree. I managed to untie myself, crawled to the road and started calling for help. An elderly woman who saw me in such situation took pity on me, gave me wrapper to tie around my waist, gave me water to drink and asked who I was. I narrated my ordeal and she advised me to stay clear from the land for my life. She gave me some money with which I got home. I was in hospital for months. That was how I abandoned the site.”
Continuing, Chuks who limps as a result of the beating he got years back, said, “ about six years after, I went back to mama who sold the land to me. But she told the gate man that the Chuks she knew was long dead. I insisted that I was the same Chuks and she asked me in. she had to pack some sand and threw on me to ascertain if I was a ghost. Having listened to me, the old woman shed tears and begged me.
She told me that she was wrongly informed and asked what I wanted her to do for me because, according to her, my land including building materials had long been sold to another buyersat the report of my ‘demise.’ That was when I told her that I would need N100m compensation; but she said there was no way she could get such money.
She later begged and sold another10 plots to me at the cost of N10m which was paid at three installments and I have been living and doing my animal husbandry their ever since.”
But when Chuks thought his trouble was over, another came knocking at the door moments after the death of the woman who sold for him, This time, it was one of mama’s children and through the same lawyer who witnessed the sale of the land to him recently.
“He went to court to say that I was trespassing on a portion of land sold to him by his late mother. The same lawyer who witnessed the sale of the land to me came to say that I should pay him N2m or he would revoke the sale of the land because he knows everything about the land. I told him that was impossible.
The following week, I received a summon that I was trespassing on my own land. When the case was called before the judge, he mused and said how can a late mother sell a particular land she sold while she was alive to her son again and asked that we go and settle out of court.
I am crying out now because they are threatening me; that I would not live to reap the fruit of my investment on that land because in 2009, armed robbers came to rob and what they demanded and took away were documents of my land. But the robbers did not know that the originals were kept in the bank while only the photocopies were at home,” he lamented sobbing