Real estate mogul cries for justice after losing N44.3m to smooth-talking conmen

Posted by News Express | 15 October 2017 | 2,349 times

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•IGP Ibrahim Idris

“There are three signs of a hypocrite: when he speaks, he speaks lies; when he makes a promise he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” Those words credited to Muhammad are what Chukwudi Julius Caesar Ndigwe has come to learn albeit in the hands of someone he believed is a friend. He believed. He trusted. But he now regrets the day he allowed his heart to lead him through trust.

Ndigwe is Chief Executive Officer of Chudek Investments Limited, a real estate company with office in Lagos State. He was a joyful high-flying entrepreneur. He loves life and wants the best for his family. He looked forward to giving his family the best he could afford and always wanted to plan a good future for them. But while he planned, some who became his friends along the way had other plans up their sleeves.

Ndigwe’s plan for a better future led him towards making plans to diversify his business. For this, he sought the help of an investment planner. Through a long-standing friend he was introduced to someone who presented himself as a high-flying director, whose CV was rich with local and international investment links and contacts. He believed. Subsequent ‘business meetings’ left him with the conviction that he was indeed dealing with an investment banker with capacity to make quick transfers to the United States of America.

But all that glitters is not gold. Ndigwe soon came to the realisation that he had been introduced to a smart alec who operated as a bank director; but was actually an easy going conman who used Wall Green Properties Limited as front. Ndigwe’s realisation that he had been betrayed came back to him after he had authorised his bank to transfer some N44.3 million into the accounts of Wall Green Properties for onward conversion to dollars and transfer to his accounts domiciled in Wells Fargo, in Atlanta, the USA.

The more Ndigwe waited for feedback on the transfers, made on his behalf by the ‘investment banker’, the more hope waned and the more the reality that he may have been duped came back hitting him. Today, he has learnt how not to trust any ‘investment banker’ who comes to him with mouth-watering offers of return on investment. For him, the betrayal was like a knife put through his heart. He lives with the pain more so as the man who he gave his money is free and walking the streets, attending high profile wedding and birthday parties and clubbing freely in high-end SUVs, while he lives with the pain of his loss.

All the “deals” occurred in 2016. Ndigwe is now a victim seeking justice. For him, justice entails total recovery of his money from his ‘friends’.

In a petition addressed to the Inspector General of Police and dated September 1, 2016, Ndigwe, through his lawyer, narrated what transpire between him and Wall Green Properties. In the petition titled “Petition against Mr. Wale Lawal of Wall Green Properties Limited and Emeka Nkwoji for obtaining the sum of N44,360.000.00 by false pretence”, received at the IGP’s office on September 2, 2016, Ndigwe’s counsel, Pius Nnoli Esq, narrated thus:

“Our client is a businessman, real estate developer and director of Chudek Investments Limited and Virgin Gate International Limited. He is resident both in Nigeria and the United States of America.

“On or about the first week of July 2016, Mr. Emeka Nkwoji introduced Mr. Wale Lawal to our client and falsely presented him as a senior staff of Diamond Bank Plc.

“Being that Mr. Nkwoji is the in-law to our client's close family friend, our client became quite relaxed in his dealing with Mr. Nkwoji and Mr. Lawal.

“Mr. Nkwoji further assured our client that Mr. Lawal is his next door neighbour and that both reside at Nos. 114b and 116b Association Drive, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos State, respectively.

“Mr. Wale Lawal confirmed his identity misrepresentation by Mr. Nkwoji and further falsely represented to our client that he is the Manager in charge of the Foreign Exchange Department of Diamond Bank Plc, and could assist him with foreign exchange purchases and, or, transfers at very competitive rates and in good time.

“Our client became quite interested and told Mr. Lawal that he needed to buy United States dollars for onward transfer to his accounts in Atlanta.

“Our client struck a bargain and on Mr. Lawal’s directive, our client transferred a total sum of N44,360.000.00 (Forty-Four million, three hundred and sixty thousand Naira) in three tranches to the account details provided by Mr. Lawal namely, WALL GREEN PROPERTIES LIMITED. The details of the transfer payments made by our client are as follows: (a) 13th July 2016: N10,000,000.00  from his Virgin Gate International Limited Account at Zenith Bank Plc. (b) 28th July 2016: N32,000,000,00 from his Chudex Investments Limited account at Zenith Bank Plc. (c) N2,360,000.00 also from his Chudek Investment account at Zenith Bank Plc.

“Our client waiting with much anxiety for the transfers to his own account in Atlanta, which never came as promised, but later came in bits into his account.

“In the course of waiting for the transfers, our client exchanged many telephone calls and electronic text messages with the duo of Mr. Lawal and Mr. Nkwoji.

“Mr. Lawal was later to give his other address as No. 57 Lafiaji Street, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos State.

“Our client was most distressed when he later received communication from his bankers, Wells Fargo, of Atlanta, United States, that stolen funds were transferred to his account.

“Our client was equally to learn from his Atlanta bankers that the Montezuma Police Department has issued a subpoena against his account and has commenced criminal investigation.

“Our client pleads total innocence of the criminal activities of the duo of Mr. Nkwoji and Mr. Lawal.

“Our client further pleads total innocence as to the source of his own funds as he is a legitimate businessman.

“Our client is a victim of fraud committed against him wherein his hard earned investments funds were cheated out of him.

“We join our client to request your good office to assist in the recovery of the funds and prosecution of the criminal suspects”.

Efforts made to reach Lawal on his telephone lines 08033336969 and 08175215716, could not go through. He also did not respond to electronic messages sent to him.

Ndigwe attached necessary evidence including those of the transfers to Wall Green Properties and letters from Wells Fargo and Police Department in Atlanta, USA.

Speaking on the issue, Ndigwe simply said: “I want my money back so I can focus on my business. I have learnt not to trust anyone ever again.”

Despite these, justice seems a far cry for Ndigwe while he lives with the pain of betrayal by persons he believed were friends. He looks forward to the Nigerian justice system to serve him justice, and also take justice to Lawal and Nkwoji, while also saving other members of the society from falling victims to the duo.

Contacts with Force Headquarters, Abuja yielded no response on the matter.

 


Source: News Express

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