One of FRCN property sold
We’ve followed due process, Says DG
In what seems a big bazaar, the assets of the largest radio network in Africa, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), across the country, are being disposed. But the sale is being buffeted by allegations of under-hand deals and fraud. Olaolu Olusina and Raheem Akingbolu report…
This is definitely not the best of times for the largest radio network in Africa, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). Allegations of sale of the prized assets of the radio station without compliance with due process and criticisms trailing FRCN new recruitments are some of the pointers to the scandal now rocking the organisation.
THISDAY reliably learnt that some members of the National Assembly, especially from its committees on Federal Character Commission and Information, and the Presidential Committee on the Disposal of Federal Government’s properties may have found an ally in the corporation’s director-general, Barrister Yusuf Nuhu, in the alleged wanton disposal of the corporation’s assets.
According to sources, some influential members of the National Assembly have turned FRCN to their private companies, through which they could make their constituents have access to the proverbial national cake.
Alleged Dubious Sales of Property
Top on the list of the allegations against the director-general is that his tenure has been characterised by illegal and indiscriminate sale of FRCN assets, hiding under the guise of the Presidential Committee on the Sale of Federal Government Properties.
Most of these assets, it was gathered, were sold to high-profile members of the society. It is also being alleged that the sales were meant to curry favour from these influential Nigerians. The proceeds of the sale, it is alleged, are not remitted into the corporation’s account.
THISDAY was told that the alleged fraud is given a semblance of authority through the connivance of some top officers of the Presidential Committee on the Sale of Federal Government properties whose mandate is to sell houses occupied by civil servants.
In the case of FRCN, however, it was gathered that that mandate seems to have been taken too far.
Offices and houses used as transit accommodation for reporters and managers in the corporation are being sold as well.
THISDAY also learnt that fictitious names are used to apply to the committee and the houses are sold at give-away prices only to be resold at the open market at more than 70 percent of the cost price.
According to THISDAY investigation, properties in Enugu, Ilorin, Kaduna and Jos had already been sold while those in Kano, Sokoto and Maiduguri are allegedly being sold in what is described as a big bazaar.
But the sale of FRCN property in Enugu is said to be generating furore at present as the said property had earlier been leased to Innoson Tech Limited, an indigenous vehicle manufacturing outfit, under a 25-year lease agreement in which Innoson is said to have paid N20 million. The property is located inside Savage Crescent, Enugu.
The land in question was said to have been sold to other parties while Innoson was asked to negotiate with the new ‘owners’.
Innoson Demands Refund of N20m
But Innoson would not have anything of such. To boot, the company demanded the repayment of the N20 million paid for the 25-year lease, and with interest. It also went ahead to drag FRCN to court. The case is at present before an Enugu high court. Hearing in the matter came up on Monday, January 7.
In a letter addressed to the FRCN director-general, dated February 7, 2012, titled RE: LEASE OF PROPERTY KNOWN AS NO. 3 SAVAGE CRESCENT, GRA ENUGU, signed by the chairman/chief executive officer of Innoson Technical & Industrial Company Limited, Chief (Dr.) Innocent Chukwuma, the company expressed its frustration at the sale, and its bid to claim ownership of the property. It subsequently requested the refund of the N20million it paid to FRCN with interest accruing on the money from July 8, 2011 when the money was paid.
The letter stated in part: “In the background of the foregoing, we are forced to bring to your attention a very unsavoury and unhealthy situation, which arose in our bid to exercise our proprietary right over the property, which occurred after we commenced development.
“Our workers have received death threats and threats of violence to our persons by persons contending to be core investors claiming to derive their title to the same property from the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC).
“At this point, we wish to draw your attention to the letter dated 8th December 2011 from the Federal Controller of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Enugu, responding to our application for fencing of the property.
“It is noteworthy to state that we had commenced the development of the property, but to our chagrin, the said development, which had had normal regulatory approval and costing millions to erect was demolished without notice by other two parties, which claimed title from the Federal Government with the assistance of heavily armed mobile policemen. The action was a fall out of the claim by these third parties against our claim as the police and officials of the said authority left the site with a stern warning to us to never enter the land again.
“You will agree that you expressed to execute the lease agreement as beneficial owners, with requisite full capacity and authority and having done so, caused me to perform my part of the lease, being to pay the said consideration and commence developments of the property, costing us colossal sums of money. You will further agree with us therefore that you are obliged to make good and specifically perform our lease agreement or restate our company to such a position as we were before we entered the lease and made the payment to you by indemnifying us of the consideration on the one hand and compensating us for all losses incurred in the claim by third parties.
“In the light of the foregoing and provisions of the lease agreement, I am demanding that you either ensure that we enjoy peaceful and peaceable possession of the property or you refund the consideration already paid to you of N20,000, 000 (Twenty Million Naira only) plus interest from the date we paid the money to you at the prevailing bank rate and compensation for our losses on the demolished development.
“We need not issue threats at this time, but suffice it to say that your refusal to act within 14 (fourteen) days from date of receipt of this letter may trigger us to think in the direction of the criminal and civil wrongs perpetuated against us by you.”
FRCN as National Cake
But an acting director of FRCN who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity absolved Nuhu of blame in the sale of FRCN assets. He blamed members of National Assembly who he said, have turned FRCN to their private companies, through which they could make their constituents have access to the proverbial national cake.
We’ve Followed Due Process, Says DG
The director-general has also absolved himself of any complicity, explaining that the sale of the corporation’s properties were in line with the Federal Government policy, which has been carried out in all strata of government functionaries.
“What we did concerning sales of properties was in line with the Federal Government policy, which created the Presidential Implementation Committee charged with the responsibility for the sale of Federal Government properties.
“Official quarters are sold to residents and the money goes to the Federal Government’s purse and not FRCN’s. In fact, in the same way, official quarters were sold to members of the National Assembly and other government functionaries,” he explained.