17th March, 2012
Abiodun Onafuye/ Abeokuta
Barely two months to his 70th birthday, a Nigerian chief from the Egba ethnic extraction, Apagun Oluwole Olumide has died. He was suspected to have committed suicide, although investigators said murder is not ruled out.
The deceased, a renowned architect,socialite and tourism promoter was until his death, a close associate of the former governor of Ogun State,Otunba Gbenga Daniel was recently quizzed by the anti graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The news of his sudden death which filtered in around 10pm last night had continued to stir controversy in several quarters across the state as people have wondered what could have made the High Chief to take such decision. While some observers suspected suicide, others said
murder should not be ruled out of the shocking incident.
Our correspondent gathered from a family source that the Egba High Chief plunged into the artificial lake shortly after he returned to Abeokuta from the EFCC office in Lagos on Friday night.
Sympathisers which include family members, associates, policemen, fire fighters, officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and local divers were seen at the scene trying to catch a glimpse of the lake where the man ended his life.
PM News gathered that the late Olumide told his driver that he wanted to have a prayer session upon arrival at the Golf Resort last night and asked the latter to go to his residence at Surulere, Ita-Eko, Abeokuta to call one security guard to join them.
By the time the unidentified driver returned with the security guard, the deed had been done. The driver and guard were said to have raised alarm after they could not find their boss.
Upon thorough search however, they saw his cap floating on the lake.Subsequently, they recovered his shoes. Throughout the night, the search party deployed to recover Olumide’s body did not succeed in the task.
At exactly 9.05 am this morning, hired local divers recovered the body which was later put in a black body bag and deposited at the mortuary of Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta.
Journalists who had gathered at the scene were prevented from covering the process of recovering the deceased by security operatives, but some reliable sources who witnessed the recovery from the lake to the mortuary confirmed to our correspondent that the deceased was dressed in a white kaftan and was recovered with his mobile phone, hand beads and some cash inside his pocket.
Some of the early sympathisers who thronged the scene of the incident this morning include the former governor of the state and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) chieftain, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, and Senator Gbenga Obadara, representing Ogun Central Senatorial District.
Emotions ran high at the scene as some sympathisers lamented the death of the Egba High Chief.
Reacting to the sudden incident,the former governor of the state,Olusegun Osoba, who was ostensibly shocked described Olumide’s death as unfortunate,”It’s too much for me to bear now, it is not something that I’m ready to talk about now. It’s too much and most unfortunate. I leave everything to God.”
The late architect, who was the lead Consultant to the Abeokuta Business District project under the immediate past administration, was quizzed two weeks ago by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reportedly in connection with controversy surrounding the hotel.
Before his ordeal at the Ikoyi, Lagos office of the anti-graft agency, the deceased had a running battle with the governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. The governor reportedly seized the 150-room Golf Place Hotel, Abeokuta and revoked its Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), saying the land on which the edifice was built was illegally acquired.
The governor, who also revoked the title documents of the Golf Resort, took the decision following the recommendation of the Ogun State Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Land Matters headed by Justice Abiodun Akinyemi.
The late businessman was arrested and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last week. It was learnt that his death came after he allegedly “squealed on OGD to the EFCC calls for thorough investigation…It is also alarming that this incident happened
the very day the EFCC confirmed they have refiled charges against
OGD,” a source hinted.
Also, the late Olumide had shunned the invitation by the State Commission of Inquiry of Land matters, where the issue of the ownership of the Abeokuta Golf International Club Limited had been subject of controversy. He was alleged by some members of the Golf club to have registered the Golf club in the name of his private business and the C of O issued to suit his personal interest and not that of the club.
In its White Paper, the discovered that the original allocation and Certificate of Occupancy, (C of O), complained of by one Akin Akande and other Club members was originally belonged to Abeokuta Golf Club and not Abeokuta Golf International Ltd.
According to the report, “The government was misled into issuing the said (C of O) meant for Abeokuta Golf Club to Abeokuta Golf International Club Ltd. whose chief promoter is Apagun Oluwole Olumide and that the survey plan attached to the said certificate was wrongfully and clandestinely altered after the Certificate of Occupancy had been signed by the (former) governor to achieve the intended mischief. This action by itself taints the said Certificate
of Occupancy rendering it a suspect document,” the White Paper said.
“The commission summoned Olumide to testify before it but he did not honour the invitation. Consequently, the committee recommended that the (C of O) registered as number 7 at page 7 in vol.476 dated 29th October 1992, issued to Abeokuta Golf International Limited be revoked
and, upon application, a fresh one with the correct and exact land size dimensions and abuttal properly demarcated be issued to the Abeokuta Golf Club and handed over to the registered trustees of the Club. However, the Hillcrest Estate and the Mamu Village excisions
granted out of the original land allocated to the Club were retained
in public interest.
The Commission subsequently ruled and recommended that, “The Golf Hotel Resort does not belong to Daniel; neither does its Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, nor the Article of Association indicate that the former governor was the owner or the promoter of the hotel.
Apparently not satisfied with the development, Olumide headed for the courts to restrain the state government from taking over the property, a development which produced a positive outcome, as the lawyer reportedly phoned him at about 12noon yesterday to inform him, only to be called late into the night to be informed about his death.
Last week, officials of the EFCC were also at the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), where late Olumide was Principal Consultant during the Daniel regime.
The incumbent Governor Amosun had on his first working day after inauguration on 29 May, 2011 ordered and supervised the demolition of Water Parks building in Abeokuta, belonging to Olumide. The governor claimed that the building constituted “a security threat” to the
State Secretariat, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta as it was built very close to the Secretariat.
The newly posted Commissioner of Police to Ogun State, Mr Ikemefuna Okoye,who was at the scene expressed shock over the incident but declined to comment when newsmen accosted him.