“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle” – Napoleon Hill.
Those were the words that drove Joshua Adegbola, a Lagos-based private sector participant in waste collection, into attending a seminar organised by the Lagos Business School in 2019.
Being a sustainability adherent, Adegbola participated in the programme with the hope that the platform would connect him with the right people and ultimately propel him into realising his lifelong ambition – owning a recycling plant.
During the seminar, he met Yemi Megbope, who was equally a recycling enthusiast, and thought his prayer had been answered.
Adegbola told FIJ he would later regret establishing contact with Megbope.
AFTERMATH OF FIRST CONTACT WITH MEGBOPE
After the exchange of ideas and an extensive conversation on recycling, Megbope offered Adegbola a stimulant – an invitation to her recycling plant in Ikorodu, Lagos.
“I paid a visit to her factory called Green Space Recycling Services Ltd. in Ikorodu in 2019 and was impressed by what I saw. I became so excited that I expressed my desire to set up something similar to hers,” Adegbola told FIJ.
“She said there was no problem and that I should reach out to her anytime I was ready.
“I asked her what it would cost me to set up a similar recycling centre, especially in the area of getting all necessary equipment needed for the business, and she said she would find out and get back to me.”
Adegbola said he reached out to Megbope in June 2020 when he felt he was ready to start the business.
“When I told her I was ready, she gave me a quotation of N29.2 million and a list of the equipment that would be transported to Nigeria from China once I made payment,” Adegbola said.
“When she gave me the list, I told her I personally didn’t have that kind of money but there were people that could borrow me.”
The PSP operator said he began making payments to Megbope in tranches but was forced to ask for a refund when he noticed a grey area in the agreement they had.
“When I started having doubts about all the things she told me, I took my money back from her. However, when she gave me assurances that my funds were safe, I started paying the money back to her in tranches,” Adegbola said.
The moment Adegbola recommenced payment for the equipment he needed, the narrative changed.
“After paying a considerable amount out of the N29.2 million she said the equipment would cost me, she reached out to me and said the dollar exchange rate had changed and that I now had to pay N34 million,” Adegbola said.
“I couldn’t go back at that point, so I had to make the additional payment she requested.
“In February 2021, I completed the payment after I was able to raise the money from friends.
“Mogbope told me my equipment would arrive Nigeria in March, 2021.
“For me to be able to clear the machines when they eventually arrive the Apapa port, she initially told me, it would cost N4.6 million. But later, she said it would cost me N6.6 million.
“At the end of the day, the entire amount I paid to Mogbope was N42,080,000. It was also agreed that the equipment I ordered would come in ‘two full containers.'”
WHAT ADEGBOLA ORDERED VERSUS WHAT HE GOT
The goods did arrive the Apapa port in March, 2021, as Megbope promised. However, they did not come in ”two full containers” as promised and this sent an immediate signal to Adegbola that something was not right.
“When the goods arrived, I noticed they were scattered in six different containers,” the PSP operator said.
“I also saw that they loaded other peoples’ goods with mine in all six containers. I quickly sensed that the equipment she had ordered on my behalf was not even up to two containers and that was why she had them scattered in other people’s containers.”
Just like he had suspected, when the machines were brought out, Adegbola realised that they were not complete.
“Without wasting any further time, I decided to confront her about the incomplete machines that were delivered to me,” Adegbola said.
“This was when she said the money I paid her could not buy the whole equipment and that she only later decided to buy the most important ones I would be needing among them.
“She added that I should still be able to start my plant with the incomplete but key machines that were delivered to me. She even advised me to buy the missing ones locally.
“I became so sad because the equipment Megbope handed over to me were not worth N42 million. I also became quite depressed because I knew I had been defrauded.”
THE ACTUAL COST OF THE MACHINES MEGBOPE COLECTED N40M FOR AND STILL DID NOT DELIVER
Adegbola told FIJ that he decided to do an independent finding online to know the actual cost of the machine Megbope collected over N40 million for.
“Luckily for me, I came in contact with the actual Chinese company that Megbope purchased the equipment from and they sent me all relevant correspondents on the inquiry I made,” Adegbola said.
“I then requested for an invoice from the company, and when they sent it, the equipment she collected about $100,000 from me for – because as of then a dollar was still being exchanged for N430 – was less than $25,000!
“This meant that the actual cost of all the equipment was within the region of N15 million.
“How could she have collected almost triple the actual amount from me and still not deliver all the equipment I needed? I was really mad.”
“Despite making over N27 million off me, she still chose not to deliver the complete equipment. Is that not wickedness?”
Adegbola told FIJ that he later scheduled a meeting with Megbope to allow both parties fashion out a solution on the matter.
“In the meeting, I told her my findings and the actual amount the Chinese company told me the equipment cost and she gave an excuse that she didn’t go to China herself,” Adegbola said.
“She also claimed she made the purchase through an intermediary.
“I then asked her, ‘You claimed to have used an intermediary, yet after swindling me this much, you still did not deliver all I requested for?'”
Adegbola said he insisted that Megbope get in touch with the intermediary so he could speak to him directly but she became evasive.
“I told her I paid for two containers so that my equipment wouldn’t get mixed up with those of others. It was clear she had my equipment scattered in different containers because of the fraud she wanted to perpetrate,” he said.
THE FAILED PROMISES THAT FOLLOWED
Adegbola said he had been asking Megbope to deliver the outstanding equipment since March, 2021, but she had continued to give him excuses.
In February, he got his lawyer to write her a demand letter.
“In February 2022, I got my lawyer to write her a letter demanding that she address my concern by making the other outstanding equipment available,” Adegbola said.
“Her lawyer wrote us back that the reason I did not get all the complete equipment was that there was ‘a mix up from China’. He also said they would be delivered soon. Till date, however, there has been no further response from them.
“I later asked her to pay me the equivalent of the outstanding equipment so that I could make the purchase on my own but she still did not respond.”
Adegbola said he wrote another letter to Megbope in September but still did not get any favourable response.
“She later sent me a series of WhatsApp messages to ask me where I would want her to deliver the items to. I sent the address to her and to her lawyer also,” Adegbola said.
“Till we speak, she still has not delivered them.”
LOAN WITH COMPOUNDING INTEREST
Adegbola said he had been getting messages from his creditors to repay the loans he collected from them between 2020 and 2021.
“I don’t know why she doesn’t want me to flourish,” Adegbola said.
“The loan that I secured in order to pay her for the equipment has now risen to over N80 million because of the interest I am supposed to pay on it. It has continued to accumulate interest at a compounding rate.
“She has killed my business and I know she is after my life. One of the things that can throw a man into depression is debt, especially when it is an unserviceable debt.
“Every day, I wake up, go about my business and come back home to an ever-increasing debt, and this is because Megbope has decided to hold on to what could have brought forth the income I could have used in repaying the debt.
“It’s been over 20 months since I made the payment to her.”
REVELATION FROM THE SOURCE
Adegbola said he later reached out to a Chinese contact who also knew about the development.
“What the Chinese contact revealed to me was disturbing,” Adegbola said.
“He told me that Megbope sold my equipment to another person. I also was able to establish that she paid around N15 million for the equipment and kept over N27 million for herself. Yet she did not supply all she was supposed to supply to me.
“I challenged her to bring out the list of equipment she ordered and the prices that were given to her by the manufacturers, but she never released the actual price list to me. She only sent me the total sum I was to pay.”
Adegbola said that apart from the N27 million fraud, Megbope had also refused to deliver essential machines like a rising tank, three screw loaders and one hot washing tank to him.
“It has been a tormenting journey. It is an episode that can make you lose your mind,” the PSP operator said.
‘OUR LAWYERS ARE ALREADY SORTING ISSUES OUT’
When FIJ contacted Megbope for comments on the matter, she said her lawyer was already working with Adegbola’s lawyer to get the issue resolved.
“He already told a lawyer to write to me on the issue. I have also contacted mine and they are already exchanging correspondence,” Megbope said.
When she was further asked whether she would like to react to the allegation levelled against her, she said she preferred to allow her lawyer do his job.
“When lawyers are having conversations, it is always better to allow them do their job. At the end of the day, the legal route is like the ultimate [sic],” she said.
After the conversation Megbope had with FIJ, she again reached out to Adegbola in November 2022, promising to deliver the equipment in one week. But she failed again in making good the promise.
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