Billionaire Ned Nwoko Engages Kinsmen On Land-Grabbing Allegation ”I’ve Settled Real Land Owners”
Famous billionaire industrialist, Prince Ned Nwoko, has reacted to speculations that he grabbed lands for his golf course and university projects in his native homeland of Idumuje-Ugboko in Delta State, Nigeria. The former House Of Representatives member said he made the necessary payments due to the right persons for the 123 hectares of land he applied for.
According to insiders, Nwoko on 16th of March, 2015, applied to HRM Obi Albert O. Nwoko III; JP and the Kingdom of Udumuje-Ugboko through his law firm, Linas International Limited for 90 hectares of land in addition to 33 hectares earlier approved for him for the establishment of a diary farm, an 18 holes golf course of international standard and a sports-based tertiary institution called Stars University.
Although, his second request was approved and sources close to the businessman said all compensations needed to acquire the land were duly paid, his accusers insist due payments were not made.
Reacting to the allegation, Nwoko, in a prepared statement obtained by this reporter, said the allocation for the land was approved at a general meeting convened in April 2015 by the Obi in consultation with his chiefs and a written approval was sent on 10th of April, 2015 to Linas International Limited through Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko.
The document reportedly stated, among other clauses, that the Kingdom would not sell the land to Linas International Limited but to enter into partnership with the company using the land as Idumuje’s investment in the partnership, while the land would be excised separately from the Kingdom and the tenant-farmers on the land be vacated and compensated.
Sources said that a committee comprising representatives of the four federating villages later set up a body known as the ‘Enlarged Land Allocation Committee’, which only term of reference was to work out modalities for the implementation of the decision of the Kingdom, locate and communicate the location of the land and raise a Memorandum of Understanding between Linas International Limited and Idumuje-Ugboko Kingdom. The MoU reportedly included, among other things, that 40% equity in the university belongs to Idumuje-Ugboko.
Despite the resolution, however, and the fact that in line with the recommendations of the Izu-Ani Land Allocation Committee, Prince Ned Nwoko and Linas International Ltd had paid compensation worth over N180 million and an extra N40 paid to farmers at the neigbouring Onicha-Ugbo Kingdom while negotiations are ongoing with a view to legally acquire more of the lands for the expansion of the golf course, as well as paying the mandatory allocation committee expenses, some individuals wanted the allocation reversed.
Sources claimed that a violent attack was later sponsored by these unidentified characters on innocent indigenes of Idumuje Ugboko community who were considered to be against their decision to reverse the allotment of land to Nwoko.
Although, there are over fifteen lawsuits pending in different courts over the matter, sources said Ned Nwoko was not involved in any, while he has reportedly called on farmers or other aggrieved persons with genuine claims of having been omitted from the payment to come forward.