Federal High Court sitting in Enugu on Friday remanded the immediate past Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development in Enugu State, Dr. Victor Chukwuemeka Nnam, in prison custody for alleged forgery, theft and obtaining land by false pretense.
Justice I. N. Buba, the presiding judge, ordered that Nnam be sent to Enugu Correctional Center pending when he was able to meet his bail conditions.
The former Commissioner, who was arraigned before the court on ten-count charges for converting to himself Aruga Layout, Obinagu Obeagu Community, Enugu an offense contrary to section 15(1) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Act), 2011, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Dr. Nnam resigned from office in October claiming that his decision to quit the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration followed the removal of the professional heads of departments under his ministry whose offences were not disclosed just as he cited the rejection of a proposal made by his office for a reform of land administration in the state.
As learnt, the former commissioner committed the alleged offences for which he was dragged to court while he was a staff of Private Estates International West African, developers of Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City (Enugu Centenary City).
In the charge number FHC/EN/CR/189/2021 – Federal Republic of Nigeria (Complainant) vs Dr. Surv. Victor Chukwuemeka Nnam (Defendant), the former commissioner was said to have “on or about the 27th day of October 2017 at Enugu State under the jurisdiction of this Honorable court did commit an offense to wit: You converted Aruga Layout, Obinagu Obeagu Community, Enugu, Enugu State which said property you derived directly from theft and or forgery and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(1) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Act), 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.”
The charge further reads: “That you Dr. Surv. Victor Chukwuemeka Nnam of 8a Giraffe Street, Zoo Estate Enugu, Enugu State, Geosynergy Services Limited of First Floor Square Meters House, 15 Carter Street, Ogui, Enugu, Enugu State on or about the 27th day of October 2017 at Enugu State under the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did make a false document to wit: Affidavit of Facts dated 27th day of October 2017 of one Chief Sunday Ngene with intent that such affidavit of facts be presented to the appropriate Government Ministries and Departments in Enugu state for approval of Aruga Layout, Obinagu Obeagu Community Enugu and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 1(2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.”
The prosecution said Dr. Nnam also obtained such forged Affidavits of Facts dated 27th day of October 2017 from Chief Chigbogu Eze, Elder Okoh Christian, Chief Oguejiofor Egbo with which he laid claim to the said layout but according to disclaimers filed before the court, the purported deponents disowned the affidavits, saying they were forged as they never deposed to such document.
After the plea was taken, Nnam’s counsel drew the attention of the court to his application for bail before the court and in exercise of his jurisdiction, Justice Buba granted the defendant bail in the sum of N200 million and two reliable sureties in the like sum, “who must be resident within Enugu State and must satisfy this court with their Bank Verification Number, BVN, National Identification Number, NIN, and telephone numbers”, adding that “the sureties must produce evidence of ownership of the landed property where as the original title document be deposited in this court, the defendant and sureties shall deposit two of their recent sized passport photographs with the registry of the court.“
The court also directed that the defendant shall not travel outside Nigeria without prior approval from the court and “the defendant shall file an undertaking not to delay the hearing of the case and shall deposit his International passport with the registry of the court.”
The matter was, however, adjourned to January 11 and 12 2022 for hearing as the judge directed the defendant to fulfill the bail condition or shall be remanded in the correctional custody.
As press time on Saturday, sources said the embattled former commissioner was yet to meet the bail condition and has remained in the correctional centre in Enugu.
The plaintiff in the matter, Private Estate International West Africa Limited, which dragged Nnam to court had said in the statement of claim that by a Building Certificate of Occupancy dated November 10, 2009 and registered as No. 20 at Page 20 in Volume 1622 in the Land Registry, Enugu, the Enugu State government had granted it (Plaintiff) a statutory right of occupancy over land situate at Obeagu/Amechi Awkunanaw, Enugu for a term of 99 years commencing from 1st January, 2009.
The purpose of the grant of the certificate, it explained, was to establish a new town or model city known as Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City, a.k.a Centenary City, adding that the the Diamond bank (now Access Bank Plc) had in 2012 granted the company a loan facility of N2,000,000,000 for the purpose of financing the first phase of development of the project.
Before the project was disrupted by the defendant, the plaintiff through its counsels, Peter N. Eze, Osinachi Nwoye and Patrick C. Chukwuma, told the court that it had invested over N10 billion on the land including construction of its administrative headquarters consisting of three storey building, construction of a 30MVA injection sub-station, construction of dual access road, internal roads, drainages, culverts and walkways as well as construction of a golf course.
But two months after Nnam became Commissioner for Lands in Enugu State, he revoked the Certificate of Occupancy for no reason, the plaintiff stated, adding that the “letter of revocation sent to us did not give any reason for the action and there was no pre-revocation notice as required by the law.
Eventually when the developer (Plaintiff) went to court to challenge the revocation, Nnam claimed that the revocation was because the company was owing the state government.
However, it was learnt, there was an Escrow account set by Enugu state government and the Private Estate and the money due to the state government had been warehoused in the Escrow account with the bank.
Private Estate has proofs of several letters they had written to the state government notifying them of the money accruing to them in the Escrow account and requesting them to furnish the bank with an Internally Generated Revenue Account where the fund could be transmitted.
At various times, the Diamond Bank now Access Bank sent reminders to the government notifying them of the money accruing to them in the Escrow account, contrary to claims by the defendant (Nnam) that the company failed to pay as agreed.