More than four years after the Ogun State Government ordered stoppage of work on the multi-billion naira Golf Resort Hotel in Abeokuta, construction work has resumed at the project allegedly, owned by the immediate past governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD).
The project was nearing completion when works on it was halted in 2011.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had instituted corruption case against OGD, which is presently before Honourable Justice Olarenwaju Mabekoje of the Abeokuta High Court.
Daniel is facing trial on a 38-count charge of stealing public funds, bribery, fraudulent conversion of public property and false declaration of assets to the tune of N211.3million.
The land at Oke-mosan in which the hotel was located was also part of extensive investigation carried out by Governor Ibikunle Amosun administration through the Ogun State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Land matters headed by Honourable Justice Abiodun Akinyemi and inaugurated on 16th September, 2011.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into all Land Allocations, Acquisitions, Sale and Concessions of Government Properties and Administration of Land Policies, Rules, and Regulations between January 2004 and May 29 2011 and other matters connected therewith.
The Commission among others revealed that the land was not properly allocated.
The white paper released on 18th January, 2012 by the Secretary to the State Government Barister Taiwo Adeoluwa, at the end of the Inquiry, accused the former governor of converting the State’s and private’s property to personal use.
An Egba Chief, Apogun Oluwole Olumide who reportedly committed suicide and chairman of the Golf Place Resort Hotels Limited was also interrogated on the by EFCC officials.
It is not however clear whether whether the EFCC has taken over the disputed project which it claims was build from corrupt proceeds of the former governor taken from the Ogun state coffers.
Ogun State government had earlier seized the 150-room hotel and revoked its documents with the allegation that the land was illegally acquired.
When our correspondent visited the site of the hotel on Tuesday, Oct. 27, construction workers were seen clearing the frontage of the hotel while additional work was been carried out at the back of the hotel.
Similar incident played out in February, 2012 when the Ogun State stopped further construction on the project.
The then Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Oluwemimo Ogunde (SAN) had said:
“The governor has cancelled that Certificate of Occupancy of the land on which the hotel is standing. Unfortunately, after it was cancelled, they continued to work on the land without any order of court to work on a land which Certificate of Occupancy has been cancelled.
“As I speak, there is no court order permitting Gulf Hotel Resources to continue to work on that land which Certificate of Occupation has been cancelled.
“The commissioner said that the government did no wrong in preventing further construction on the land, adding: We believe that we have not violated any court order.
“No court has directed that we should leave the land, so we have prevented them from working because the C-of-O has been cancelled.
“They now have before the court a motion asking that the court restore the certificate of the land to them.
“The court is yet to determine it, and it has not been heard, but I can assure you that we are defending it.
“That is why I wont want to commend on the matter beyond that point.
“If the court directs that in spite of the cancellation, we should allow them to work, we will, but there is no order of the court on it and we have prevented them from working in that hotel.
“We have set up a White Paper Implementation Committee which is headed by the Deputy Governor, Prince Segun Adesegun”.
The recommendation of the Commission and the decision of Ogun State government as contained in the Ogun state of Nigeria Gazette No. 6 Volume 37 is hereby reproduced:
‘CHIEF AKIN AKANDE AND OTHERS (ABEOKUTA GOLF CLUB)
1. The Commission observes that although the original allocation and grant of the alleged Certificate of Occupancy complained of took place before 2004, the actions of the Government on the land between 2003-2011 falls within the Terms of Reference of the commission, thus vesting it with jurisdiction to look into the entire matter.
2. The Commission found as a fact that the said Parcel of land in issue was indeed originally allocated by the Ogun State government to ABEOKUTA GOLF CLUB and NOT Abeokuta Golf International Ltd.
3. The Commission found further as a fact that the government was misled into issuing the said Certificate of Occupancy meant for ABEOKUTA GOLF CLUB to Abeokuta Golf International Club Ltd whose chief promoter is Apagun Oluwole Olumide and that the survey plan attached to the said certificate was wrongfully and clandestinely altered after the certificate of occupancy had been signed by the Governor to achieve the intended mischief. This action by itself taints the said Certificate of occupancy rendering it a suspect document.
4. The Commission found that between 2003-2011 the Ogun State Government established the Hilcrest Estate and also excised some land for Mamu Village extension out of the original 79.351 hectares allocated to the ABEOKUTA GOLF CLUB.
(VI) Although the Commission summoned the said Apagun Oluwole Olumide to testify before it, he did not honor the invitation.
(a) The commission recommends that the certificate of Occupancy registered as no 7 at page 7 in vol.476 dated 29th October 1992 issued to Abeokuta Golf International Limited be revoked and, upon application, a fresh one with the correct and exact land size dimensions and abuttal properly demarcated be issued to the ABEOKUTA GOLF CLUB and handed over to the registered trustees of the Club.
(b) The commission recommends that the Hillcrest Estate and the mamu Village excisions granted out of the original land allocated to the Abeokuta Golf club, be allowed to stay in the public interest.
Governments accepts these recommendations.’
This new twist to the controversy surrounding the Golf resort hotel is coming after the company owned by former Governor Daniel, Kresta Laurel celebrated 25 years of existence.
The event was attended by Governor Ibikunle Amosun represented by his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo among others from different political divides.
From Jamiu Folarin in Abeokuta