A former chieftain of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Chief Ralph Obioha, is angry. A property he bought in Ikoyi before he went into exile, following the struggle to actualize the June 12, 1993 presidential election has allegedly been taken over by his former employee and lawyer. But the employee says no! rather, he said Obioha needs to clarify with authorities first. EMMANUEL IFEANYI reports
All is not well with a leader of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in Canada and the United States, Chief Ralph Obioha. Obioha, a Second Republic Member of House of Representatives is lamenting how his trusted former employee and his former lawyer plotted to take over his property in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The Imo State born elder statesman alleged that the Managing Director at his defunct First African Trust Bank, Mr. Yomi Tokosi, conspired with his former lawyer, Mr. Chima Okafor to illegitimately take over his property located at N24A Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The former National Chairman of the Justice Party said that he had entered into an agreement with Tokosi to complete the then uncompleted building at N24A Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State and share the units between them. Obioha reportedly lost his commercial bank, First African Trust Bank; lost a brewery, Safari Brewery that was brewing Hercules beer.
He was also reported to have lost a cement bagging plant in Port Harcourt, Castle Cement, and a vegetable oil company while on exile over the struggle to restore democracy in Nigeria. Speaking to New Telegraph, he alleged that while on exile, Tokosi took advantage of his absence in the country to twist the terms of their agreement and conspired with his then lawyer, Okafor, to take over the property.
Obioha said he had in 1991 acquired the land from the late renowned sculptor, Prof. Odinigwe Benedict Enwonwu (Prof. Ben Enwonwu) who gave him power of Attorney, Deed of Agreement, Deed of Sale and Deed of Indemnity.
The Pro-Democracy fighter said he began the construction of the building through Multi-Project Limited owned by Ademola Odutola, who was introduced to him by Tokosi in 1993 before abandoning it due to threat to his life by the military government. He said he had to flee into exile following the onslaught against him and other NADECO Chieftains by the General Sani Abacha-led military regime over refusal by the military to swear in the winner of the 1993 presidential poll, Chief Moshood Abiola. “Political unrest rocked Nigeria following the refusal of the military to swear in Chief M.K.O. Abiola as the winner of the 1993 presidential election.
“The truncation of Abiola’s mandate predicated a massive unrest with General Sani Abacha assuming full military powers and I, being a frontliner in the struggle fled into exile in the USA. “I fled, partly for my safety and most importantly, to continue with the struggle for the restoration of democracy.
“Multi-Projects continued with the construction of my property at 24A Ikoyi Crescent, reached foundation level and had to stop as my flight to USA which we believed will be brief turned from months to years.
I didn’t return to Nigeria until 1998,” he said. Obioha said that four years after his return from exile and the property lying uncompleted, Tokosi approached him to allow him complete the building on the basis of sharing the four units; two each to himself and Tokosi.
The Ex-NADECO explained that Tokosi also undertook to perfect the Certificate of Occupancy of the land and other fees. Obioha however regretted that the agreement to allow Tokosi complete and share the building between them has become his undoing. According to him, Tokosi rented one of the two units belonging to him (Obioha), paid rent thrice and declined further payment since 2018 while still occupying the unit.
“My erstwhile lawyer, Chima Okafor, called me in the USA and announced that he will no longer act as my lawyer; that I should return immediately to Lagos and collect my property file with him. “When I returned to Lagos after a week, I discovered that Tokosi and Okafor had concluded a plot to take over my property.
“Okafor refused to honour any invitation for us to meet, except once and did not return the property file to me till date. “We spoke on the telephone and he said there was a fire incident in his office which consumed my property file.” Obioha said that the fire incident narrative is a ploy to hide original information. He accused Tokosi of having a hidden agenda and collaborating with Okafor, to take over the property.
He added that he had earlier handed over some documents, including the agreement he had with Tokosi, to Okafor for safe keeping not knowing both men whom he trusted will turn around to conspire to betray him and take over his property.
“Tokosi wants to use Okafor to deprive me of my property. The missing agreement which Okafor claimed was burnt in a fire incident that took place in Mr. Tokosi’s property was contrived to destroy evidence.”
He said that the main aim of Tokosi and Okafor was to destroy evidence the documented part that established things that Tokosi was to perfect the land title, build a first class finished building of the highest standard, ensuring all building approvals were obtained and consent obtained from me before any changes will be allowed.
He said: “It was convenient for all these agreements to be burnt by fire as alleged by Tokosi and Okafor. If there was a fire outbreak, there are laid down procedures that must be followed. Why didn’t the duo obtain a police report of the incident? “As my lawyer, why didn’t Okafor swear to an affidavit of facts over the incident and obtain CTC of the burnt documents and make them available to me? It was a planned scheme to take over my property.
“The two of them were of the mistaken conviction that if they succeeded in claiming that the documents were burnt by fire, then Tokosi will simply inherit the property.” Obioha said that Tokosi and Okafor were aware that the enforcers of the Abacha junta invaded his country home in Arondizuogu, Imo State and carted away title documents on his property holdings in Nigeria including the ones he received in respect of 24A Ikoyi Crescent.
He lamented that he felt secured that his lawyer, Okafor was in safe custody of the original documents of 24A Ikoyi Crescent, but little did he know that he will betray him. “Tokosi, who was the managing director of my bank also told me Abacha closed the bank because of my NADECO activities.
But it is regrettable that I was betrayed. “Tokosi believes that the documents to the property are out of sight. This is why he is shouting that the production of the documents is all he wants. “He has even made false claims that the land doesn’t belong to Prof. Enwonwu, but to the Lagos State government. This is a sinister plot to make a tenant, Tokosi, a landlord. “He was paying rent on the unit he rented and suddenly stopped.
He wants to become a landlord through the backdoor. I bought the property at 24A Ikoyi Crescent three years before a friend introduced Tokosi to me and I made him the Managing Director of my bank,” he said. Obioha alleged that Tokosi has made several petitions against him to the Ikoyi Police Station, has brought several gangs of thugs, one of who assaulted his boy, Kingsley Mbonu. He said that due to the extent of the assault on Mbonu, the Ikoyi Police took him to the Police clinic at Falomo. “I have lost count of the number of times he has brought purported officials to seal my property. I have been arrested over 20 times by the Police on flimsy reasons.
“Each time, the Police told him to maintain peace. Tokosi has also dragged me before the Lagos land grabbers committee who washed their hands off the matter because they discovered he has no case. “He has been playing the ethnic card that he is a Lagosian while I’m Igbo, but that is nonsense.
I knew he was a Lagosian before I employed him as Managing Director of my bank.” When contacted, Mr. Yomi Tokosi told New Telegraph that the issue is that he and Obioha had a joint venture agreement on a land he claims to be his and Lagos State later objected to the claim with proofs. “I erected the structure and completed it with money. I gave him two after the completion and after awhile, Lagos State Government came and said they own the land. Instead of him to go there to ratify things, he did otherwise.