When an unexplainable fire outbreak gutted the popular Tejuosho market in Yaba about five years ago, many owners of the shops therein were thrown into disarray, having lost many items and lots of cash. No sooner than the calamity died down than the contract for the reconstruction of the imposing market was awarded to a firm by the Lagos State Government. But that is as far as the story goes, as very unsavoury stories are emanating form certain sources over the property or otherwise of the new Tejuosho market project. What you will read hereafter will surely boggle your mind. Follow us.
There are now very strong allegations of massive fraud in the Tejuosho and Alade market project in Lagos. These allegations were made more potent when the Special Fraud Unit, SFU of the Lagos Police command arrested last week the lead consultant of the two projects, one Olaide Omotola over purported fraudulent acts. It was further pinned on Omotola that he has been fronting for the former governor of Lagos State and ACN chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Prior to this shoddy development, previous occupants and new allottees of the markets have been crying out over non-allocation even after paying the exorbitant amount prescribed for the respective allocations and having met all conditions attached to the allocations.
According to our very reliable source, Olaide Omotola is now in police custody, and he is answering questions over allegations of fraudulent and mis-appropriation acts in the course of executing the modern market projects, even as he is being severally accused of fronting for the former governor Tinubu, who is believed to be the major undertaker of the markets. In fact, we gathered that the contract for the reconstruction of Tejuosho market was actually awarded during the tenure of Tinubu, when it was gutted by fire in 2007, and it was at this juncture that the shady deal was struck.
Feelers from those who should know, say Tinubu gets a sizeable cut from any payment made by a prospective allottee, through the connivance of his proxy Olaide Omotola who we gathered handles the allocation of stalls, shops and lock-ups, all at very ridiculously high rates.
Those who know Tinubu in and out say they are not surprised at this unwholesome development through Tinubu’s antics and devices.
They claim that he has a barrage of manipulative tendencies all aimed at maximizing every single pie that he has his hands in, just as the sitting governor, Fashola remains helpless, since he (Tinubu) put him there as the governor in the first places. What seems to be intriguing in the whole scenario is that years after exiting as Lagos governor, Tinubu still remains very influential and dictatorial in the scheme of things. This is to be expected, anyway, because of the much power he wields within the party and largely because he has most of his ‘boys’ in very plum and influential positions in government and even at the National Assembly where his wife Oluremi is a Senator, son-in-law Hon. Oye Ojo is in the House of Reps, just like Barrister Opeyemi Bamidele and Senator Babafemi Ojudu amongst many others.
Whatever comes out of Omotola’s present predicament with the police, one thing is certain, Tinubu cannot in anyway be implicated as no traces may be found to him in the whole plot, having masterfully designed the act to leave him out of any suspicion.
Details of the fraud allegations are presented to you un-edited as published in a soft-sell magazine last week. It’s very revealing. “The much anticipated opening of the new Tejuosho Market in Yaba has hit brick walls as the latest news is that the Special Fraud unit (SFU) of the Nigerian
Police has arrested the manager-in-charge of the mall, Olaide Omotola, for alledgedly defrauding the company handling Tejuosho Redevelopment, Stomberg Engineering Company of over 2 billion naira. A petition was forwarded earlier before the arrest, to the Inspector General of police by the Managing Director and Chairman of Stomberg Engineering Company, Mr. Dolapo Atinmo alleging the fraud perpetrated by his company while acting as interim coordinator for oversight functions at the project site, for the company was later referred to the Special Fraud Unit for further investigation. At the SFU, the statement he made was that he has been out of the country with his family after the contract was awarded to his company, in order to attend to his failing health, for which he then handed the oversight function to Omotola; he also revealed that the manager, Omotola floated a personal company with his wife and 3 year-old child, Jeremiah, whose name he used in naming the company, Jeremiah Construction Company Limited and awarded millions of naira worth of contracts to his company without approval from Stomberg Engineering. He said further that while he was away, Omotola took over the construction activities at the project site by further awarding the tiling and blocks laying jobs to his company and submitted an inflated invoice of over N76 million to Stomberg for financial payment. Atinmo further alleged that Omotola forged a company resolution purportedly transferring over 4 million shares of Stormberg Engineering to himself, thereby making him a Director in the company, which he also filed same at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.
Atinmo also alleged that Omotola went borrowing money on behalf of Stormberg Engineering. He also said one of the companies that Omotola obtained a loan from was UT Financial Services Nigeria which offered him N300 million given the project to execute which they have already sold about 70 percent of the shops to buyers who have fully paid with letters of offer confirmed and that up till now their shop allocations have not been given to them and it is now shaky the way things are.
He stated that at no time did his company approve such loan and will not be liable for the repayment. The Special Fraud Unit also said investigations are ongoing and confirmed the arrest of Omotola who is still in their custody. The shop occupiers who had already paid huge sums of money are already fidgeting as to what will become of their fate whether their money is going to be tied down or whether it is also going to serve as an avenue for the contractors to make use of it in investing in some other projects and not meet up with allocations. Since the old Tejuosho market which was one of the biggest markets in Lagos was gutted by fire on December 18, 2007 where shop owners lost millions of naira to the inferno, its new construction began in 2009 by the intervention of the Lagos State Government who did a private-public partnership concession of 25 years with a developer, Stomberg Engineering Limited and bankrolled by First Bank. The news from some quarters with this new development is that Stomberg Engineering that was taking turns as they were informed that Stomberg will not be able to go on with the construction, due to misappropriation of funds and the construction has now been given directly to First Bank to complete. This is one of the reasons why the marketers who have bought their shops are angry as many allege there are stories that First Bank is planning to allocate the remaining shops to those that buy directly from the bank before allocating the rest to the initial buyers from the Stomberg Engineering. It was also gathered that the initial buyers of the shops are already clamoring for their allocation since they have fully paid or get back their refund if the allocation is not forthcoming. Tejuosho Market is located on 3 hectares of land where the old one was and will house 4,048 shops with 1700 traditional shops. The main building is a 5-storey building consisting of basement, ground + 3 suspended floors. It is to have a police post, sewage treatment plant, car park that can accommodate 580 cars, service area of banks, restaurants, first aid centres, fire stations and a truck loading and off-loading space. The new market which promises to adequately meet the needs of the average buyer and seller in terms of functionality, accessibility and ease of navigation and aesthetics is being developed by Tejuosho Property Development Company. The deal includes a special repurchase provision for former tenants of the market with the provision of over 1,651 K-lamp shops on a flat rate of N1.2 million while the bigger shops, according to the state government directive wiII be given to them for 525,000 per square metre as against 600,000 per square metre. Some of the big shops go for 5 million and above depending on the size. It was also gathered and earlier reported from one of the project valuers that “when the sales of the shops started last year the shops have been zoned to tally with the various articles of trade that would be traded by prospective shop owners, adding that only few shops were left. “We have about 70 percent sold and what we are doing now is mop up”. Those who make full payment will get a space.” One of the consultants also said “the original traders in the former market have been given a special package and an opportunity to occupy an area known as K-lamps, spaces, which cost N1.2 million for a 25- year lease period of the concession.”The Lagos State Government concessioned the shopping complex to Stormberg Engineering for 25 years and they can only sell within the period of their concession.”
As for Mr. Atinmo and the’ project consultants, only time will tell as to when the shops will be allocated to the owners who have fully paid their rents or bought the shops with their hard earned money.