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Centenary City developer worries as state govt’s action puts project at risk

Private Estate International West Africa (PEIWA), the developer of Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City, also known as Centenary City, has expressed deep worry over what it calls ‘unjustifiable discontinuation in government policies’ that is threatening continued development of the city.

As a limited liability company incorporated in Nigeria to engage in the business of real estate development, PEIWA entered into an agreement with the Enugu State government under former Governor Sullivan Chime to establish a new township or model city.

This agreement and the development of the city had the potential of creating thousands of jobs for the teeming youth population and positioning the state as a model for modern metropolitan planning and urban management, some of which are already being realised.

But the state government has revoked PEIWA’S Certificate of Occupancy which the company alleges was orchestrated by Victor Chukwuemeka Nnam, the state’s Commissioner for Land and Urban Development who is a former employee of PEIWA.

Kingsley Eze, PEIWA’S CEO, alleged that while Nnam served as their employee as

Project Principal Surveyor, he plotted a grand scheme in which he connived with certain elements to parcellate some portions of land belonging to PEIWA and sold same to unsuspecting members of the public in the name of his company, Geo-synergy Services Limited.

But Nnam, in a media report, denied ever working as an employee for PEIWA, wondering how a company registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission could employ another company registered by the same body as a staff of their company?

“Are they suggesting that Geo-synergy Services became insolvent and its liabilities were bought over by PIEWA or that both companies went into a merger at any point? PEIWA sought and secured the professional services of my survey firm, in the course of my private practice. We consulted professionally and parted ways when we did,” he said.

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Eze also said Nnam was disengaged from the company as a result of his fraudulent activities, recalling that on January 17, 2019, PEIWA wrote to the Surveyor General of Enugu State, informing him of the termination of Nnam’s appointment. This allegation was dismissed by Nnam, saying that as at January 2019, he was still a staff of Enugu State

University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and so, could not have been a staff of PEIWA.

Beyond the allegations and the rebuttal, development see implications in government’s revocation of title to the city development, pointing out that all the economic potential of the city development, the many jobs the development have created, the value addition to the environment by way of land value appreciation, and the social amenities it has brought to the community have been put on hold.

The action may also have put the company under undue pressure because of their exposure to bank credit. The interest will be piling while the purpose for which the credit was taken is not being realized. The expected default in repayment of the loan may, in the long run, affect the bank’s balance sheet.

In line with the obligations of the parties under the agreement, Enugu State government, by a Building Certificate of Occupancy dated November 10, 2009 and registered as No. 20 at Page 20 in Volume 1622 in the Lands Registry, Enugu, granted PEIWA a statutory right of occupancy over land situate at Obeagu/ Amechi Awkunanaw, Enugu ‘the Land’.

“Following the grant of the statutory right of occupancy, PEIWA raised equity from their shareholders and also secured a loan facility from Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) of N2,000,000,000.00 for the purpose of financing the first phase of the development of Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City project,” Eze, disclosed.

He listed construction of key roads, provision of treated water, electricity and development of the Golf Course as major areas the loan was deployed to, noting that the loan was backed by a Deed of Legal Mortgage dated January 2, 2013 and registered as No. 76 at Page 76 in Volume 1637 in the Deeds Registry at Enugu,” PEIWA disclosed in the statement.

Eze added that the company also built a water supply system with ultra-modern water treatment plant and commenced water reticulation, installed street lights and commenced construction of the Driving Range and 2 holes out of the proposed 18 holes golf course and built an ultramodern Police post with accommodation for Policemen.

“In fact, PEIWA has invested billions of Naira in this project of which the ripple effect has added tremendous value to the surrounding lands and the entire community,” Eze noted, adding that the project had so far created jobs for the unemployed youths, created expansive social amenities and brought massive development around the geography where the project is cited.

The Centenary City land matter is already in court following a thorough investigation by the police. According to PEIWA CEO, the company was not surprised that, on December 9, 2019, the High Court of Enugu State quashed the C-of-o revocation on the basis of the suit (Suit No. E/ 1081/2019: Private Estates International West Africa Limited v. Governor of Enugu State & 2 Ors.) it filed.

“The Court has made an order of interim injunction in the said suit, restraining the defendants in the suit as well as their servants, privies and agents from entering into or disturbing the Plaintiff in its possession of the said land,” Eze said.