21.08.2023 Business INTERVIEW: Contractor ‘Owed Over N100m’ Discusses ‘Daylight Fraud, Racketeering’ in Landwey

Published 21st Aug, 2023

By Tarinipre Francis

On June 30 after FIJ published its investigation, ‘Landwey, Money Heist’: A Real Estate Company With Access To Power Is Getting Away With Daylight Ponzi, exposing the highanded and extortionist practices of Landwey, a real estate investment company owned by Olawale Ayilara, towards its clients, a number of irate clients contacted us to report similar experiences about having properties worth millions of naira strapped with Landwey for years with no completion in sight.

One of them was Abiodun Fawunmi Kayode, a contractor for Landwey who doubled as a client of the real estate firm and had introduced several new clients to the company.

Kayode is the managing director of Biogold Group Ltd., an indigenous dredging, marine and energy support services company contracted to dredge and sandfill seven of Landwey’s nine estates. However, after sandfilling Landwey’s Frontier, Isimi, and Urban Prime 1-4 estates with only overdue payments and being booted out of his deal with the real estate firm by Ayilara and George Ogboeche, his partner, to show for it, Kayode has now filed a lawsuit against the duo and relieved Ogboeche of his duties with Biogold.

In this interview with Tarinipre Francis, he narrates his experience dealing with Landwey as a contractor, a realtor, and a homeowner, describing it as traumatic and a total letdown.

READ ALSO: ‘Landwey, Money Heist’: A Real Estate Company With Access To Power Is Getting Away With Daylight Ponzi

What is your relationship with Landwey and Ayilara?

My relationship with Wale is in three phases. I am a contractor for Landwey. If you are counting the three or four contractors in Landwey today, you’ll count Biogold. Then, because I wanted to support his business, I went all out. I started pitching his business to people both within Nigeria and outside the country. I am a realtor who brought in clients for Landwey, and I’m also a homeowner. I bought a two-bedroom terrace in Urban Prime Two from Landwey.

How did you establish this relationship?

It trickles down to when he (Wale) first started his business—when he first started selling land. We met at a forum at Oriental Hotel, and we exchanged pleasantries. I loved the way he facilitated his lecture, and I was fascinated by the fact that he was a young man who was promising, and I was also a businessman who liked to move around to see what new things I could explore. We met, and I discovered that after that, he started selling land. COVID came, and everything shut down, and people were at home thinking, “what are we going to do”? All businesses shut down. That’s when people sat down and started re-strategising their steps. Immediately after COVID, when they lifted the ban, the projects in Urban Prime started.

I had some funds tied down somewhere, and I was looking for where to put them. I went to Landwey; that was my first time visiting Urban Prime One. Urban Prime Two was a bush then. I met them at their sales office, filled out the form, and saw the potential in what they were doing, so I decided to key into it. So one day, when I went to submit the form, I saw Wale, who happens to be someone I had known before; you know, I had been to his office once or twice after our meeting at Oriental.

I walked up to him and said, “You know, I love what you are doing here. I just picked up the form, and you know that this is what I do. I have come to you before about dredging, and it didn’t fly. But now I can sandfill for you and all that.”

And he said it was fine. He called his team member, Engineer Niyi, and said, “This is my friend. Look at whatever you can do with him”. That was how I started filling for them, bringing in trucks. Then, the business was okay. I think every 72 hours, they paid you for the work that you had done.

How many Landwey estates has your company worked on?

We have worked on about six estates. We worked in Isimi; we worked in Urban Prime Three, One, Two, and Four; Frontier; and Milton Estate. We didn’t work in Hockley or Onyx.

At what point did you become aware that Landwey was having trouble completing projects?

When I started noticing that someone was already derailing the project because, for me, I believe that when you have a project, you have to finish one before you move on to the next one. So that was when I noticed the deviation was having too many estates at the same time. There is no way you can survive it. They would give a delivery timeline, and 12 months would elapse, and I’d wonder, What have they done?

They also started bringing different people; There were so many vendors, and they started struggling with the numbers because when you have 100 trucks lined up, you don’t know who is who. You have to make sure that you are on the ground so that your invoice tallies with what is being submitted, so you won’t have any issue in your calculation.

Given your experience as a contractor with Landwey, would you say COVID-19, inflation, and EndSARS impacted project delivery timelines?

Before they started this project, it was after COVID, so I don’t think COVID is an excuse; if you talk about inflation, inflation affects every business, so it’s just for you to put your home in order and to ensure that you are warehousing some of your materials. Buy them in bulk since people are paying you. So whether inflation comes or not, it won’t affect you. So, for me, I don’t think I will take that as an excuse as a homeowner because I stopped paying them when I realised the way and manner the projects were being executed. And also, you owe me some money, I bought a house from you; how do I pay for the house if you don’t pay me? At least I should make profit from what I do for you; I’m not for charity. This is not a charitable organisation; it is for profit, because that’s what puts food on my table.

What is the current status of your home?

I have a two-bedroom terrace; to my dismay, earlier this year, because of the issue between George, myself, and Korede, I just saw in my email that my subscription had been terminated. That I should not pay money to the account further. What do you mean by saying I should not pay money into your account again? Are you not into business anymore? Or do you want to rob me of my property? Or you want to rob me of my hard-earned money that I struggled to pay you? And now, the plan is that even from inside the letter of termination, he’s saying that he wants to take 30 percent off me and also that I have to wait 120 days before my balance will be given. Meanwhile, you have not even fulfilled your end of the bargain. You were supposed to deliver this house way back in 2021, eighteen months from August 2020.

You are on 75 percent [completion], and you are terminating me. Then you have a trajectory of payments that you are owing me that you are supposed to pay. You held the money because you felt, Who am I? Who is Biodun?

You are also a victim of Landwey’s delayed project delivery timeline, but you also worked for them as a contractor. What role did Biogold play in these delays?

My company is just a contractor; what I do is basically sandfill for them. We are the first people to move to the site.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: FCCPC To Investigate Landwey After FIJ’s ‘Money Heist’ Story

Unlike many clients, you have a bird’s-eye view of the projects. Why do you think Wale is still expanding despite several unmet project delivery timelines?

For me, it’s because he has not prioritised what is important; for me, there is something in a project called finish to start. Finish one before you move to the other; with that, you will be able to stay afloat, but if you continue this way, this is dead on arrival.

When did your conflict with Landwey begin to develop?

I thought this was a very good business, and I wanted to support this gentleman, so I went all out to collect a loan and I bought trucks to be able to support. I was hiring trucks initially, so I bought two trucks, but only two trucks could not suffice, so I needed to still hire more. But at least with two trucks, I should be able to save more.

Something came up. I don’t know what happened, and they just stopped contractors and asked us not to supply again. We said, “What’s the problem?” Our money was held; they said they needed to bring an independent auditor to go and audit, and we said okay. That’s fine. I don’t have any issues with it.

The process of auditing took almost three months; we were waiting for our money to be released. They knew full well that I bought trucks on credit. The project stopped, and I had to pay back the bank that financed the truck. The reason I tied the project to the trucks was consistency. Every day, you know where your trucks are going. There’s consistency. 

I bought those trucks to support the project you gave me because you are giving me bulk, and I knew it would sustain the truck loan. But when the stress was too much, the bank was dragging me, and the people who were supplying me were waiting on me. “If I supply him for three to four days, he pays me, so let me hold on.” But holding their money for that long was crazy. I had to sell the trucks.

I even sold one of my Lexus to also be able to pay off those debts so I could have peace. So after selling those things, my takeaway is to have a contractual agreement for every deal.

I didn’t have any contractual agreements with him. It was a one-on-one agreement.

Was it after this experience that you quit your service for Landwey?

No. I decided that if I’m going to do anything with Landwey going forward, it must be contractual. While I was doing that, there was one of my partners, George Ogboeche. I took George to Landwey and said, “Let’s go have a meeting.” George introduced me to Korede, whom he said was close to Wale, and said Korede could help us pitch Wale on one side while I pitched him on my end.

We had a meeting with Korede, George, and Mr. Dayo. And then Korede said that going forward, any conversation should be sent through George. And I was like, “What?” Why? I told George that is not how things are done in our company, and we must follow due process. This is why I don’t like to involve third parties in a partnership.

George also came to tell me that Wale said he should be the one to handle the project and communicate with Korede. At some point, I began to wonder if there was racketeering going on with them behind my back.

Did you speak to Wale about this development?

He will not give you a fair hearing. I remember wanting to reach out to him. The point at which he decided to give me a hearing was when my lawyer contacted him for full payment. Wale has been owing me since 2021. The only project he paid for before we started was Isimi. When I was in the U.S., I tried to contact him as well. I tried everything.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I visited him personally at his office. It was then that I saw that he had given the dredging project to them. I then sought redress in court. We didn’t have a formal contract, just a gentleman’s agreement and a gentleman’s discussion. We are the ones that did the clearing, and the main goal is that Biogold is a dredging company. It was dredging that took us to Isimi, not even clearing. Clearing came as a bouquet. It needed to be done before dredging could commence. So while we were doing the clearing, I started doing the planning for the dredging.

I discovered that Wale had paid these guys behind me, and the work was going on; there was never a time that work stopped. He called me on the phone with one of his project managers, and I told him that I sent a letter to him through his lawyer, and let’s have a meeting.

He pretended like he didn’t know it was me on the phone or that it was Biogold. He said we should meet in his office.

He didn’t even let me say anything. He just said, “Mr. Biodun, I’m aware of what is going on and that Korede is my brother, and I’m going to protect your interests. I’ll find a way to start paying, and also for the dredging project that is going on.”

When I left Wale’s place, I started sending messages to follow up on our discussion. I sent several messages and even the equipment I wanted to use on that project. I sent him the plans that I have for the project: the way and manner in which I want to design that site in Isimi, the way I want to do the dredging.

George took that information and presented it to Wale, and that was what Wale ran with. George knows nothing about dredging; he is a petroleum engineer. I brought him in to assist with the oil and gas sector projects.

Also, the same equipment owner that I contracted is the one handling the project with Isimi at the moment. But these are the antecedents. These are the roles he played. You are a leader. You don’t have to behave this way in your transactions with anyone. Was it racketeering? How will you hold my money?

I decided to speak with my lawyer since Wale had given this project to George. The next thing was for me to get my money.

I called all my directors in the office, and we had a board resolution, and George was removed. That was why I went all out to seek redress in the High Court of Lagos.

How much does Wale currently owe you?

He owes N75 million for the Isimi project. He gave them (George and Korede) N15 million; I don’t know how he came about that. That’s none of my business. In Frontier, it was a N182 million project, and in fact, I have done it to the tune of N54 million. I sent him an invoice, and he was able to pay N33 million out of it.

And these are even loans that were collected to be able to execute the job. I collected a loan for a month to execute that job. Before my money comes out, up until now we have not seen the balance.

Before my money came out of Landwey, it took four months. I had to pay interest on that money for good four months. So what kind of business is this? Your business is growing, and you are killing somebody else’s business?

If I collected money for a month thinking that you would pay me in the contract we had, the contract was for three weeks, meaning within three weeks you want to pay in 10 days; it means that you will pay me every three days.

It’s as good as, every three days I want to be paying you N18 million. That’s what’s in the agreement. And I went all out, so when I discovered that I was not sure this guy would be able to pay me if I spent this N182 million, I paused on N54 million and had to start chasing that N54 million. At N54 million, I started paying interest on the loan I collected. I paid interest for four months when I was supposed to pay for one month, so is that not killing my business? It’s killing my business.

READ ALSO: RIGHT OF REPLY: Landwey Finally Responds to FIJ’s ‘Money Heist’ Investigation

How many clients did you introduce to Landwey?

I’ve brought seven clients to Landwey, including myself. It was promising, which is why I was able to start pitching it to people.

Have any of those properties been delivered?

None of them.

How has this affected your relationship with your clients?

Badly. There’s one experience that I had because one of them came in from the United States and decided to check on the situation with the house. She bought into the Onyx Estate, and she has paid up to N27.5 million, and the house is N35 million. She has paid over 50 percent, and she has her allocation letter. But to our surprise, when we got to Landwey’s office, we were told by one Mr. Adeolu that work on her property had not even commenced They had not even started at all. She got infuriated and started blasting me. “Why did you introduce me to this kind of organisation?  Mr. Biodun, I don’t need this anymore.”

That is the kind of problem I’m facing with the people I have assisted to procure homes in Landwey. None of them has been delivered, including mine. Right now, mine is even terminated, but I’m fighting it because I’ve written them back that this is just a fictitious way of robbing me of my hard-earned money, so he should desist. If he thinks he wants to sell that house to the next customer and make more money, and also deduct from my own money, it’s not possible. So I’m waiting for their court injunction in that regard; otherwise, I’ll also seek redress for that.

There was also another client I introduced. They thought the house would be ready; this same person right now is renting a house in one of the Urban Prime estates. She was sent packing from where she was staying because she had told them that her house was going to be ready by this time. But when it dawned on her that it wouldn’t be ready, she had to find a way. In fact, I was the one who helped introduce her to the landlord whose house she is currently renting. Her husband is still on my neck, asking why I allowed him to pay when I knew that these people would not deliver. This person was also my partner. In fact, when I was doing the sand business, she brought in some money, so when I told you I sold trucks, these are the people I paid the money back to because I needed to clear my table. So if I am not mistaken, I have sold at least seven houses for Landwey, including my own.

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Published 21st Aug, 2023

By Tarinipre Francis


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