By Abdulazeez Suleiman
Judicial Commission of Inquiry sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State has urged the former Director-General, Kwara State Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME, Mr. Segun Soewu to explain how N4.7billion SMEs fund under the immediate past administration in the state was expended.
Chairman of the Commission Justice Olabanji Orilonishe (Rtd) therefore mandated Soewu to produce the list of all the beneficiaries, their addresses, the amount collected, the amount paid and the outstanding payment.
Recall that the State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had earlier set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by the Justice Olabanji Orilonishe (Rtd) to look into some petitions written against some people in and outside the state on how they fraudulently diverted and sold public properties.
The Judicial Commission which commenced sitting at the Sharia Court, Ilorin on Monday November 9, summoned many people as part of giving them fair hearing on some allegations levelled against them.
During the hearing on Thursday, one AbdulRahman Shuaib narrated before the Commission how he was offered the Kwara State Government property on 7, Pariya Road in Kaduna by Harmony Holdings Limited (HHL) at the sum of N50million.
Testifying before the panel, Shuaib said he has been living on the three bedroom apartment with boys quarters since 1997 as a tenant until in 2014 when the then Group Executive Director of Harmony Holdings Limited Adebayo Sanni approached him to buy the property.
“I am aware the property was owned by the Kwara State Government. I started as a tenant of the Kwara State Investment and Property Development Corporation and I was paying between N100,000 and graduated to about N800,000 until 2014 when Harmony Holdings took over the property and I was offered to buy the property at the sum of N60million . I didn’t start the idea of buying the property. They (Harmony Holdings) initiated the idea and later agreed to pay the sum of N50million,” he told the panel.
When the lead counsel to the panel Joseph Bamigboye (SAN) asked the witness about the nature of the title on the property, Shuaib said he was shown the certified true copy of its Certificate of Occupancy which served the purpose of his negotiation.
“At the point of negotiation I saw a certified true copy of its Certificate of Occupancy and we had an understanding of immediate payment of N40million into Harmony Holdings Limited account. The money was acknowledged through a letter. So, the balance became an issue because I insisted on getting the C of O. I committed 80% of the payment with the belief that I was dealing with an agency owned by government. I gave a benefit of trust that at the point I will be paying the next N10million, I would have sighted the original copy of the certificate of occupancy. But that didn’t happen.
“Though there was a pressure from Harmony Holdings Limited to pay the outstanding but I stood my ground on seeing the C of O. Nonetheless, as the conversation went on with Adebayo Sanni, Hussein Alada and Joseph Afolayan of Harmony Holdings Limited, I told them as a man of honour that I would release the sum of N7.5m in addition to the N40m and I would hold on to N2.5m so if it becomes necessary to authenticate and regularise the document I will use from it and offer the net balance. Then, we agreed on that. I told them to declare in a recognised newspaper that the C of O was missing and they should indemnify me which they did.
“So, I am holding on to N2.5m till the C of O is out and we reconcile the account because their retainer lawyer is on it in Kaduna.”
Shuaib therefore pleaded with the commission to order for the perfection of the title as well as looking at the possibility of reducing the price he paid for the property, saying he was unduly cheated and conceded to pay the amount under duress when compared to the amount the HHL sold other Kwara State Government properties in Kaduna.
The commission therefore summoned Professor Saka Nuhu, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim (Kaduna), Jamal Solomon (Kaduna), Taoheed Community in Ilorin and the Daudu Amule Ile-Egba Shuaib Agboola Olarongbe to appear before it.