By Temitope Stephen, Lagos
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of 1004 Estates Limited, Mr. Sam Ukpong, has alleged that some home owners and residents in the high rise building are after his life.
He has subsequently pleaded with the Acting President of the Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and Inspector-General of Police (IGP), to ensure that his life and those of his immediate family members are well protected.
Speaking with journalists at a press conference on Thursday, the 1004 Estates Limited Chief, said the threat was not unconnected with the forceful invasion and takeover of the estate by some residents since December 2015.
He said: ‘’I have been living like a fugitive for months.
“ It all started when they took over the Estates and our facilities.
“They threatened to abduct my children, who are attending American International School, and I had to relocate them abroad when they attempted to make good the threat.
‘’They have run my family out of town but I have started receiving threat messages and calls to give up the business too.
‘’It is so sad that I don’t have a permanent residence again. I cannot even sleep well again. I sleep in different places every night.’’
Ukpong alleged the business hijackers are working with some unnamed government officials in the police and judiciary to cripple the Estate ; ‘’the last time the Inspector-General of Police sent some officers to arrest the invaders, they were resisted by the gang leaders with some policemen from the Command.
‘’They have arrested and locked me up in police cell several times. The EFCC has been instigated to arrest me too.
“It is interesting that my only crime is running a legitimate business in an honest manner.
‘’I have not been guilty of anything sinister. They asked for a share of the company’s profit without any investment and vowed to cripple the business when I refused.
“They said they will show me they know powerful people and interests in the country. And that is what they have been doing.
‘’They have not only taken over the estate, they have also been running after my life”.
He therefore urge the Acting President and security forces to protect him from dangers, saying those after his life had vowed not to give up until “he is dead”.
Narrating huge investmestment he has expended on the estate in order to make it habitable, Ukpong said: “the sum of N7 billion was paid to the Federal government of Nigeria to buy the Estate, while several billions was spent for the Estate’s renovation.
“Total sun of N2.2 billion, with he gave the breakdown as follows: N1.2 billion, N502 million, N300 million, N90 million, N126 million were also paid to the Lagos State Government for title regularization, infrastructure development levy; planning approval fee; land use charge for three years; LAWMA’s refuse evacuation for three years respectively.
“We are wondering why there is a conspiracy to support only 8 homeowners and residents who bought a flat for between N20 and 25 million each or are renting to continue destroying the investments of a thousand other home owners in the estate.
The 1004 Estates boss also described the action of the new Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), on the Criminal charge against those arraigned for forceful entry into the Estate.
He said: ” there is now a strange conspiracy by the new Lagos DPP Mrs. Shitta-Bay to discontinue the case of forceful entry against Tayo Soetan, Bosun Sosanya, Halogen Security, Tom Salem security Femi Romiluyi and Anthony Ogunkoya, Ademiluyi Ehiosu Oviawe and others who led the forceful invasion of the Estate.
“This is clearly an indictment of the former DPP, Mrs. Alakija recently adjudged worthy of elevation to a judge of the Lagos High Court, who had earlier determined a case of forcible entry and conspiracy and recommended their prosecution. It also discards the extensive investigations also done by the office of the inspector general of police into the matter and the crimes committed are about to be covered up by this strange somersault in the new DPP advice .
“The new advice is quite strange to us considering the determination of the Governor Ambode’s administration to stamp out illegal forceful entry and take over in the state which led to the promulgation of the Lagos Property Protection Act of 2016, which specifically makes it an offence to threathen, and bring thugs or armed police men on any property in the state with or without violence and imposes jail terms.
“The strange new DPP advice therefore runs contrary to public policy and public interest by attempting to obstruct the the accused persons or their lawyers to establish their defence to the charges if any and scuttle the trial.
“We are worried if the Property Protection Law is not applicable when a non yoruba interest is forcefully taken over in the state or if the law is for general application by the DPP.
“The actions of the Lagos DPP serves to remove the access to justice for aggrieved parties which is the primary purpose of the ministry of justice and encourages criminality and portrays the state government as promoting injustice to citizens”.
“The Residents’ Association was not formed by the all the House Owners, and not supported by the majority of the owners and residents”.
On the current state of the Estate he also said: “the water plant has broken down, and the residents have being drinking poisonous brown water. Burglaries and theft are rampant, while the power is terribly low. Even, the residents have removed the first group of people, and the new ones are unelected. Since take over forcibly, the new people have not render any account and they have no auditor. There is electricity fraud, and disconnection of residents.
“Prior to the crisis in the Estate, 1004 Estate Limited was providing account every years. But since forciful take over, the association is owing EKDC N50 million, and Land Use Charge of N27 million.
“That’s is the current situation of the Estate that 1004 Estate found itself since the residents forcifully take over the management of the Estate”.
The disturbed 1004 Estates Managing Director said his travails have confirmed the widespread belief that the nation’s investment climate is unfriendly.
‘’If this can happen to a legitimate domestic investor, how can we attract foreign investors?
“All of these have shown that Nigeria is not safe for investors
“Does it mean one cannot invest, run a business and live in Lagos without harassment?
“Some have told me this is because I am a non-Yoruba but it is hard for me to believe because I was born and bred here.
“I have lived in Lagos for over 50 years. This state has been the best for investors but some few people are making it very doubtful now,’’ Ukpong stated.