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Enugu Commissioner faces court case over land acquisition

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Enugu Commissioner charged to court over land acquisition

By Jacob Ajom

Enugu State Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Victor Nnam, has come under fire for allegedly using illegal means to forcefully acquire and sell large expanse of land and for breach of trust concerning land belonging to Private Estate International West Africa Limited meant for the development of Enugu Lifestyle and Golf Resort.

The Commissioner denied the allegations.

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The allegation is contained in a summons filed at the Federal High Court, Enugu Division by the Attorney General of the Federation pursuant to a petition forwarded to the Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, to investigate a breach of trust and impersonation against Mr. Nnam and two other persons allegedly connected to the unlawful act.

In a statement through its lawyers, Private Estate International Limited chronicled events leading to the charge against the Commissioner.

It noted that prior to his appointment as the Commissioner for Lands, he was a consultant to Private Estate International West Africa Ltd.

The firm said: “The Commissioner, Victor Nnam, used confidential information from his client to begin scheming for land out of the landholding of his client granted and covered by Building Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Enugu State Government.

“Clearly (it is) in breach of the ethic of his profession.

“Against an obvious conflict of interest and in breach of his fiduciary duty to his client, he caused the application for layouts out of his said holding and in one instance he approached the principal members of the Obeagu Development Union to consent to his scheming, but they turned him down.

“Upon being turned down, he forged their signatures and prepared and presented a fake affidavit to the lands authorities upon which a layout was approved for him from the landholding of his former client.

“He commenced selling the land to the public by himself and through company Geosquaremeter Innovative Ltd and other cronies.

“Private Estate upon this discovery instructed their lawyer BROCKWELL PRACTICE to petition the Nigeria Police, who investigated the matter thoroughly before handing the matter to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation for review.

“Upon their review, the office of the Attorney-General established a prima facie criminal case of multiple forgery against him.

“An eight-count charge of forgery has since been filed against Mr. Nnam by the Attorney-General of the Federation at the Federal High Court Enugu Court 2 with a possible jail term of 160 years.

“Private Estate had also instituted a civil action against him alongside Mr. Paul Ogbe and Geosquaremeter Innovative Ltd, claiming damages in excess of N1.8 billion in the High Court of Enugu State (SUIT NO. E/413/19).

“A case which also showed evidence of yet another forgery of signature of staff of Private Estates and falsification of dates.”

Commissioner reacts

Reacting, Nnam, through his legal aide, Emma Onyibor, has written off the accusations as mere distractions and cannot stand legal tests.

Oyinbor said: “For the records, the charges should be considered incompetent and lacking in basic facts. They’re obviously frivolous and malicious, and should be treated as such.

“The Enugu Commissioner, Nnam, as a public servant and in his private practice, demonstrated the utmost professionalism and, as such, these allegations should not be taken seriously.

“He’s not a lawyer, but he’s certainly educated enough to know that the Federal Government cannot take up a land case that is not within the Federal Capital Territory.

“Initiating one without the consent of the Attorney-General of the state may be considered an abuse of the Land Use Act.

“I want to state categorically that as a public officer, my client’s first line of responsibility and allegiance would remain Enugu State Government.

“I will not be beholden to clients in the course of my erstwhile private practice or even to land grabbers and will continue to discharge my duties accordingly to ensure sanity in land administration in Enugu State.”

VANGUARD

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