Before he died mysteriously, Buruji Kashamu used his political influence to swindle hundreds of unsuspecting persons. The reputed fraudster, drug baron and politician was feared more than he was loved. In his lifetime, he was fondly called “alhaji” or “god” by those who knew him.
“The whole village rejoiced when he died,” one of his victims said when the news of Kashamu’s death broke in 2020.
In his early days, Kashamu acquired a honorary PhD from the Cambridge Graduate University, an unaccredited university in the United States. And, in 1998, he was arrested on drug-related charges after trying to enter the United States with $230,000 cash.
Several attempts by the U.S. to secure his extradition upon return to Nigeria in 2003 were futile. The Nigerian government once secured a court order for his extradition, but Kashamu appealed the decision and got it overturned.
Kashamu was a very good friend of Ooni Ogunwusi, a world-class king who executed the biggest fraud in Nigeria’s real estate history. However, things started to fall apart between the two friends when they reportedly conspired to use their political influence to grab N20 billion worth of land belonging to Adeniran Adedokun, a Lagos-based surveyor.
In 2008, Adedokun became a victim of Kashamu, a feudal overlord. For over a decade, the surveyor had peacefully possessed a 50-hectares land excised to him by the Ogudu family. He would later find that Kasmal Properties Ltd. and Bukas Kasmal International Ltd., two construction companies belonging to Kashamu, were erecting structures on the land. He sued the encroachers in an attempt to stop their activities.
What Adedokun did not know was the extent of Kashamu’s influence. For the first time, he met a man with a never-ending craving for fraud.
Unfortunately, Adedokun took his last breath on June 19, 2020. He spent the last 10 years of his life fighting to own his land, but he was unsuccessful. How did the surveyor acquire this land worth billions of naira?
Around 1994, the Lagos government acquired 2000 hectares of land belonging to the Ogudu Oke Oshadi chieftaincy family at Ogombo village in the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state. Dissatisfied with the government’s action, the family challenged the acquisition in court.
Instead of dragging the case, the Lagos government opted for an amicable settlement and excised 500 out of the 2000 hectares earlier acquired from the family.
To secure the release of the land, the family, through its accredited representatives, commissioned Adedokun, the surveyor, to assist in facilitating the issuance of a certificate of occupancy and to conduct a perimeter survey on the excised area, using his own resources.
In an undertaking signed by both parties and dated February 21, 1995, the family agreed to release 8 percent (40 hectares) of the 500 hectares to the surveyor in return for his service. He would later be given 10 more hectares of land for commissioning the layout of the land.
Before the end of 1996, the surveyor had completed the perimeter survey and had acquired a certificate of occupancy bearing the name of Arafat Shitta, the family’s interim chief and representative at the time, “for and on behalf of Ogudu Oke-Shadi Chieftaincy family in Ogombo”.
Then, in a letter written to the surveyor in 1998, commending the good job done, the family restated their commitment to the agreement and asked him to prepare a deed of assignment that would give him possession and ownership of the land while the layout was still in progress.
“This serves to inform you that the survey work done by your company has been re-checked by another professional surveyor and they found the number of hectares RELEASED to your company, Vide Plan No. ASC/LA/146B/96, which is 50.080 hectares correct and perfectly done,” the letter reads in part.
As a result of their agreement, Adedokun became the owner of the 50,080 hectares. But there was a problem.
THE DEED OF ASSIGNMENT TUSSLE
When the layout plan was ready and submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning in 1999, the sum of N25 million was demanded as the provisional layout approval fee which the family was supposed to pay. But they refused to proceed with the payment, prompting Adedokun to write and remind them of their promise.
He waited for their response, but did not get any. When he sensed the family was not ready to pay the application fee, he submitted the deed of assignment after fulfilling his own part of the agreement.
In May 2008, the accredited member of Ogudu Chieftaincy Family and Adedokun registered a deed of assignment passing the ownership of the 50.080 hectares to him and registered same as No. 43/43/2200 at the land registry, making him the owner of the land he had been in possession of since 1998.
‘THERE WAS NO PROBLEM UNTIL KASHAMU APPEARED’
Later in 2008, the surveyor noticed that some real estate companies belonging to Kashamu were commencing work on his land. He thought he could stop them with the law, so he sued them. But while the suit, no. LD/771/08, still subsisted at the high court of Lagos State, these companies continued selling the land and registering several new deeds of title, creating confusion in the process.
“Kashamu became aware of our valid title over the land,” Adebayo Adedokun, one of the surveyor’s sons, told FIJ. “Then he started selling it to innocent buyers to cause confusion and make us share the 50 hectares with him.”
In 2009, Kashamu mortgaged 20 hectares (part of the land) to secure a loan from Oceanic Bank (now Eco Bank). The mortgage deed authorised the bank to sell the land in case of a payment default.
The mortgage would prevent him from conducting subsequent activities that would jeopardise the bank’s interest should they eventually claim the title, but Kashamu proceeded to sell the land to other persons. One of those who fell victim to his fraudulent scheme was Prince Eniitan Ogunwusi, who would become the Ooni of Ife.
“What Kashamu did was that he would collect money from you, and he would say, ‘The land is 4 million, but you can pay two million naira and take possession of the land,’” the Ooni said in an audio obtained by FIJ.
The monarch revealed that he bought hectares of land from Kashamu in 2011 without knowing that the same land had been sold to others. This triggered disputes between the two friends.
“If not for the throne that I sit on,” Ooni says, “Kashamu could have cheated me.”
HOW KASHAMU ‘GRABBED’ 70 HECTARES OF LAND FROM OGUDU FAMILY
It was not exactly a surprise that Kashamu, who returned to Nigeria after escaping sentence for drug trafficking in the UK, got into the middle of a smooth land transaction and ruined it.
In an affidavit sworn before the Lagos State High Court, Kashamu claimed he bought 57.806 acres (23.39 hectares) of land from one Chief Olorunyomi Adejumo, a man popularly known as a “land grabbing warrior”, for a sum of N7 million. He also claimed to have bought another 117.209 acres (47.43) of land registered in a deed of assignment on 27 May, 2008, for a sum of N10 million.
Meanwhile, the deeds of assignment did not reflect Chief Adejumo as the assigner. The Ogudu family representatives were the assigners, and Bukas Kasmal International Limited, Kashamu’s company, was the assignee.
Again, in September 2008, Kashamu said he acquired 20.044 hectares of land from the family in consideration of the sum of N15 million. But if Kashamu had bought the land from Adejumo, why would the Ogudu family have signed the three deeds of assignments with the consideration of N32 million in total? If the family had voluntarily signed the documents, why would they have taken Kashamu to court in October 2008 and forced him to sign a N300 million settlement?
In a meeting with the late surveyor’s children, representatives of the Ogudu family narrated how Kashamu had compelled them to sign the deeds of assignment in consideration of a meagre amount. If what Kashamu wrote in the paper was correct, the family said they would have received the sum of N332 million for the 80 hectares of land he claimed to have bought from them.
“Who are we to defy Kashamu?” Chief Alasela wondered. “When they brought the documents (deeds & settlement), we were forced to sign them. All the money he paid was not up to N150 million.”
In a leaked telephone conversation, a certain Muniru Ogunleye and one other family member admitted that they cheated the late Adedokun in favour of Kashamu who filled their pockets with bribes.
“I don’t want us to act fraudulently towards each other as we did to Adedokun,” Ogunleye told the other family member in Yoruba during the short telephone conversation.
‘KASHAMU FRAMES UP SURVEYOR’S SON WITH MURDER‘
When Kashamu saw that Adebayo Adedokun, the late surveyor’s son, was becoming too daring with lawsuits over the land controversy, he attempted to distract him with a fake murder charge.
In September 2019, Adedokun, a lawyer, was arraigned before the Lagos State High Court for the attempted murder of Kashamu and Muniru Ogunleye. But in another leaked audio conversation, Ogunleye said, in an audio tape, that he was surprised when he read the news that Adedokun attempted to murder him. He recalls how Kashamu had met and instructed him to go to the police station to accuse Adedokun of attempted murder.
“When I saw the news that one lawyer attempted to murder me and Kashamu, I shouted, knowing that it was a lie. Adedokun never wanted to murder us,” Ogunleye says.
However, the police refused to investigate the allegation properly before charging Adedokun on three counts of attempted murder, breach of peace and conspiracy to commit a felony. The court would later grant him bail after seizing copies of his call-to-bar certificate.
In August 2020, Kashamu was said to have died of COVID-19 complications. But, one year after his death, Adedokun is still standing trial for attempting to murder him.
CASE FILE MISSING — BY VIRTUE OF KASHAMU’S INFLUENCE
Again, Kashamu proved his influence when the appeal court asked both parties in the land tussle to go back to the high court for the continuation of their case. But upon reaching the court at Igbosere, their case files could not be found.
“They searched everywhere at the high court; they couldn’t see our file,” Adebayo said. “We waited for like one year looking for our file. When they eventually saw the file, the court gulped fire.”
Meanwhile, till he died in 2020, Kashamu neither appeared in court nor allowed the adjudication of the case.
FROM KASHAMU TO OONI OGUNWUSI, ANOTHER LAND GRABBER
“Kashamu terrorised us. That was why we were all happy when he died. After he died, many people called me to say, ‘We thank God for you,’” Baale Alasela and head of Ogombo village said during a meeting. “Now Ooni has taken over the land.”
Ooni Ogunwusi does not appear like a man who can defraud his neigbour, let alone an entire community. But, in cahoots with Kashamu, Ooni conducted illegal transactions on the land despite knowing the fraudulent activities going on there.
‘I CURSED KASHAMU; HE BEGGED ME TO HIS LAST BREATH’
“I cursed him. Kashamu was among those I first cursed on this throne,” Ooni can be heard saying in one of the leaked audios obtained by FIJ.
“He begged me to his last breath. We had an agreement and he betrayed me. I told him to beg everybody. He destroyed this world.”
FIJ had exposed how Gran Imperio Group’s subsidiary companies, in conjunction with Howark Limited and Metropole Interproject Ltd., perpetrated one of the biggest real estate frauds and got away with it. As it turned out, Ogunwusi is one of the 14 directors of Gran Imperio Group of Companies.
In another audio obtained by FIJ, Ogunwunsi can be heard saying one of the bold steps he took to take over the hectares of land was “dealing with Kashamu”.
“A lot of blood has been spilled on that land; lots of blood crying on that land,” he said in the audio.” I met Kashamu in 2011 and when I met him, he told me he had a land, but the land was problematic. And I gave him N3billion in cash.”
Despite Kashamu’s confession that the land was controversial, Ogunwunsi said he bought it and paid N3 billion in cash to Kashamu.
“He used a charm on me then,” he said. “I searched for money everywhere. I started giving him the money in 2012. Then in 2015, he told me I couldn’t get my money back because I did not make proper payment. God now used this throne to protect me so as not to lose out in the transaction. It was after that I saw his secret. I told him not to try it again. I told him to let us settle everything.”
His kind of settlement would reflect in a joint development agreement between Ogunwunsi’s Metropole Interproject Limited, Ayo Aderoju’s Clayhall Trading Company Ltd. and Kashamu’s Kasmal International Services Ltd. in August 2016.
A check by FIJ revealed that Ayo Ojuroye, who is the CEO and co-founder of BetNaija, is one of the three directors and shareholders of Clayhall Trading Company Limited, the other two being Olasimbo Ojuroye and Maureen Ojuroye.
The joint settlement assigned Clayhall Ltd. as the developer to execute a project called ‘Grand Lake Estate’ on the land.
“The parties hereby agree that due to the vast experience of the Developer in real estate development and investment, the landowner will transfer to the developer the title to the demised land ownership as the land ownership lies with the parties to this agreement,” the settlement reads.
The settlement indicates that Metropole paid the sum of N1.75 billion through land sales and co-operation agreements in respect of the property dated April 2, 2014; July 24, 2014; and May 21, 2015. But this new settlement dated August 22, 2016, supersedes and invalidates previous agreements already signed in favour of Metropole.
According to an affidavit sworn by Kashamu, the new settlement crashed. But before then, Clayhall had transferred some of the titles on the land to one Taiwo Shote, a man identified as Kashamu’s niece, and other two real estate companies. In 2018, Shote transferred five hectares of land, through a deed of assignment, to Pennek Nigeria Ltd. And in another contract of sale on August 6, 2019, he sold 50 plots of land to ‘The Registered Trustees of Greater Liberation City International Ministry, AKA Grace Nation or Mountain of Liberation and Miracles.
The transfer of titles from Kashamu to Ooni and other parties involved is a dubious way of complicating the case in court, legal practitioners contacted by FIJ observed. Therefore, it will be impossible for Adedokun to make his father’s claim of the hectares of land.
When he noticed different transfers of titles, Adedokun wrote to those real estate companies buying the land ignorantly, informing them of the court case. They did not heed his warnings; they would rather continue projects on the land.
The real estate companies that have purchased portions of the controversial land property include Courtleigh Investment Ltd., Pennek Nigeria Ltd., and Livewell Premier Nigeria Ltd.
OONI TAKES OVER THE REAL ESTATE
After confessing to cursing Kashamu who later died mysteriously, Ooni confirmed taking over the real estate by giving orders to developers to continue building on the land — against a court injunction.
“I was the one giving the developers the go-ahead,” Ogunwunsi said. “That was why the case quickly bounced to me.”
When Adedokun noticed Gran Imperio’s activities on the land in 2014, he sent a letter to Ogunwusi, notifying him of the implications of his illegality.
“Even though Ooni confirmed to us that he received this notification,” Adedokun said in an interview with FIJ, “we would later find out that he continued executing several deeds, from sales of land to joint development settlement. When kabiesi became aware of our interest, we expected him to do the right thing by leaving our land for us and finding a way to collect his money from Kashamu.”
But Ooni would not leave the land for any reason. Instead, after the death of Kashamu, he started ‘settling’ everyone his former friend had jilted.
DESPITE LAGOS TASK FORCE’S INTERVENTION, NO JUSTICE FOR ADEDOKUN FAMILY
On September 24, 2020, Adedokun petitioned the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers, relying on Section 8 (3) which prohibits the sale of land already sold without a court judgment repudiating the former sale and section 8 (4) which commits anybody guilty to 21 years in prison.
The petition was against KASMAL Properties Ltd., Bukas Kasmal International Services Ltd., Courtleigh Investment Ltd., Taiwo Shotte, Pennek Nigeria Ltd., PWAN Group (Dr. Augustine Onwumere) and Landwey Investment Ltd.
Reacting to the petition, Owolabi Arole, the coordinator of the Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers, wrote, in February 2021, to the Attorney-General of Lagos State to grant the petitioner’s request.
“I humbly invite the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to consider and approve the request for security assistance. Further, I seek the indulgence of the Honourable Attorney-General to direct the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to invoke necessary provisions of the physical planning law to remove the illegal structures/shanties to enable the rightful and legitimate owner to enjoy the peaceful possession of their land,” an internal memo by the LSSTF/LG reads.
But despite the coordinator’s recommendation, the encroachers, save Landwey, still continue their activity on the land.
“Their adverts are everywhere,” he said of other real estate companies. “Pennek Nigeria Ltd. advertising its project on the land as ‘The Estate’, PWAN Group’s sgnature, Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank, as ‘Imperial Homes’, Courtleigh Investment Ltd. as ‘Reserville Estate.'”
When Taiwo Shote was contacted on why his company encroached a land knowing that there was a court injunction over the land, he claimed he was not a party to the case.
“If a case is in court, does that mean I should not sell the land?” He asked.
Pennek Nigeria Ltd., in a reaction to an email to the company, said it bought the land from the rightful owner, but it declined to comment on its knowledge of the case in court.
When FIJ contacted Courtleigh Investment Ltd. for comments, the woman who answered the call said she was not aware of any case in court. She also refused to answer further questions.
Several calls placed to the lawyer representing KASMAL Properties Ltd. and Bukas Kasmal International Services Ltd. for comments were not answered.
Also, PWAN Group did not acknowledge or return calls and text messages sent to them.
Reacting to the story, Tomisin Olawale, the Special Assistant to Ooni Ogunwusi, claimed Metropole has been under a different management since 2015. He refused to comment on Ognwunsi’s association with Grand Imperio Group, the parent company of Metropole.
“Should any concerned parties have challenges in finding a lasting solution,” he said, “His Majesty, as a father, will be willing to help in finding amicable resolutions.”
‘FORGET ABOUT THE LAND’ — OONI TELLS ADEDOKUN
Meanwhile, when Adedokun later met Ooni in 2020, the monarch told him to forget about the land because he could not get it again.
He also reminded them that a lot of blood had been spilled in the land struggle, and a lot of things had been buried there. Meanwhile, to Adedokun, settlement is not a bad idea to avoid more shed of blood and waste of lives.
“We know that if one’s grains spill and you try to pack it back, they cannot be complete,” Adedokun told FIJ. “But for the land currently worth about N20 billion, one should also take what is fair.”
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