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When Ghosts Refuse To Die

January 16, 2024

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My lawyer is from Anambra State in Nigeria

When we wanted to buy a property in Lagos Her first words to me were, “Let me go to the Department of Lands and verify the availability and veracity of this property”

She was the one who insisted we must get something called blue and red copies for all our properties

She also insisted that we do surveys and update the data with the Department of Lands in whatever state of the country we might be building any project

When we were given acres of land in Kwara, Adamawa, and Ogun State, she didn’t let me rest until I got all the properties registered with the government

I have sat on the board of some companies that deal with loans and other financial deals relating to finances, when they ask potential clients to bring in collaterals, the same client will pay them the fee for screening the property and ensuring the properties are property owned and documented with the government

This is done before funds are released because they didn’t want anyone collecting huge funds from them and dropping documents of properties under litigation due to one issue or the other

No Nigerian with the funds to buy and/or build a house in Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt should ignore due diligence when buying these assets

I was offered a property in Port Harcourt, and I flew down there with my team

We inspected the property and did our due diligence, I met with the agent and it was supposed to be a slam dunk deal until I felt a restraint in my spirit

I didn’t hesitate to pull the plug, even though I really wanted the property

I have learned over the years to trust my instinct especially when the Holy Spirit tugs at them in the form of a red flag

I have read a lot of threads on Twitter in the last few days suggesting that property demolition in Lagos in the last few weeks has targeted a particular tribe of the country

Many are using the move to make claims that politics was involved and that a particular tribe was being politically attacked for their voting pattern in the last election

It was a good political move by those who did the videos, in one breath it serves as misinformation, in the other breath it works as a propaganda machine to fuel a certain narrative and keep colored opinions from being sorted in the minds of biased readers

It is a Public Relations stunt employed by defense lawyers to sway public opinion in the face of certain justice

I have seen it done several times in America and Nigeria and I recognize it for what it is

I would probably do the same thing if I were in the shoes of those whose properties were affected

I just won’t fold my arms and watch billions in investment go down the drain If I really have a case though, I will get a lawyer

My lawyer will get a restraining order against the government to protect my property from demolition

Then we will go to court and the government will prove its case

I will get my full compensation plus damages

It may take time but that would be my best recourse

If I, however, don’t have any document or legal standing on the matter, I will resort to this strategy of writing and doing videos on social media while appealing to the emotions of the people and coming up with all sorts of stories to make myself a victim

About 10 years ago when I was pastoring a church at Agiliti in the Mile 12 area of Lagos, the houses built along the river were deemed illegal construction and the government started pulling them down due to the constant flooding those structures were causing in the area Houses were submerged under water during the rainy season with citizens fleeing to seek refuge with other friends and family members only to return during the dry season

Everybody knew the government was right, the illegal structures built on the river and along the waterways needed to go to allow the river to flow freely but nobody wanted their structures pulled down because it represented years of hard work and sweat

They wanted the government to compensate them but the government refused to do so because the area was already planned out by the Ministry of Environment and Lands and it was clearly stated that the land along the waterway was not to be sold, yet the local Baale (King or Chief) of the area and the land grabbers continue to peddle the land as their ancestral land and property

They sell to whoever will bring the right amount of money and they insist they will resolve the issues with the government if it is ever brought up

Most times, they just pretend everything is fine until they get the fund and share it among themselves

The man or woman who bought the land from them then cries foul when he or she eventually discovers that despite all his education and claimed enlightenment, a bunch of illiterates had taken advantage of his or her desire to own property and taken him or her to the cleaners

The victims of this land scam in Agiliti came to me as a pastor and asked me to help them in any way I could, “Pray for us,” they said

I asked them why they didn’t go to court if they had a case

They said nobody had the money to pay lawyers and that the Lagos state government had bought over all the judges

I asked them why the government would buy over judges against her citizens They said it was because the government was planning to turn Agiliti into Magodo Phase 3 and rake in billions of Naira from the sale of their properties to the rich and famous

I was like, wow! I was quite naive then

Apart from pastoring, I was working as a journalist and I had ties with many newspapers and TV stations

I took the story to our newsroom and narrated the case to our Head of News

The man allowed me to deliver my flawless David versus Goliath “we no go gree” speech before calmly explaining to me that while the story is a good human angle story, it is nothing but emotional blackmail by the offenders aiming to arm-twist the government after they had found themselves in the wrong

After looking at all the facts, I realized I had left facts for feelings and I took that class with humility

My Camera crew and I went to Agiliti to record the demolition and we interviewed some of the affected former landlords whose ‘landlordships’ were demolished along with their properties

The story made it to our Sunday Special stories for the TV station but that was that

The majority of those affected were Yoruba people, we didn’t have one Igbo or Hausa landlord in that area

It affected the Igbos in that area too because some of them were tenants of the demolished buildings, the same applies to the few Hausas affected

The demolitions going on in Lagos State at the moment are not targeted at a particular ethnic group or tribe in my opinion

When I watched the video, I saw Yorubas who were interviewed and who confronted the commissioner for the environment speaking with him clearly in Yoruba

I know it must have affected people from other tribes of Nigeria too but to frame it as it has been framed is taking victimhood to a witchcraft level

I am not ignorant of the general narrative from the South-East since the Biafra war ended, it has birthed many unpleasant things and claimed many lives over the years

It seems the ghosts of that civil war have refused to rest in peace

As a nation, we would all do well not to allow the shadows of the past to ruin a good future for us and our children

Due diligence must be done by anyone who desires to own property in any state in Nigeria

Even when you are buying a property from developers who claim to have Global CofO, Governor’s Consent, or whatever, please double check with the right government agencies and ministries before committing your funds to the property (It will cost you a little but it is worth it for the sake of your peace of mind)

Try your best not to engage local land grabbers and touts, Baales, chiefs, and whatever directly when buying any property

You need a lawyer

It pays to engage a good lawyer who knows his or her business and will do the due diligence on your behalf.

This will save you a basket full of tears in the long run.

 

-GSW-

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