By Bassey Udo
An Abuja high society businesswoman and Founder, Haleems Integrated Services Limited, Halimat AdenikeTejuosho, has denied fleeing the country and making herself inaccessible to the police and other security operatives over an alleged N500 million contract scam.
Court documents obtained on Monday at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja said after several failed attempts to serve the businesswoman with court processes relating to the litigation by her erstwhile business partner, an order was made for her and her company to be served through substituted means over the allegation.
The order issued on December 13, 2022, by the presiding judge, A.S. Adepoju, was a sequel to suit No.FCT/HC/CV/589/2022, between EMMANUEL SUKU and Don Suku Cargo Logistics Limited versus Halimat Adenike Tejuosho, Haleems Integrated Services Limited, Royal Apparel and Cecilia Ebesi Idoko.
The suit filed by Akpomiemie Monday Akpomiemie was pursuant to an allegation of about N436.3 million and $21,500 Halimat Tejuosho received through “deceit, breach of trust, and theft from Emmanuel Suku.”
In an affidavit deposed to before the court, Suku alleged that sometimes between October and November 2021, Tejuosho, through her company; Haleems Integrated Services Limited, approached him to go into partnership to execute a contract.
Under the terms of the agreement, Suku said he was to serve as the principal financier for the construction of 500 units of houses at Karshi, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for members of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs Staff Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited, which Tejuosho claimed was awarded to her by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
Suku told the court the partnership agreement was executed with Tejuosho in which he, as the financier, was required to provide about N300 million for the purpose of executing the contract.
After the provision of the initial funding, Suku said Tejuosho kept pestering him for more funds to ensure the smooth takeoff and execution of the contract. He said he obliged, by making a total payment of N436,325,000.00 and another $21,500 into bank accounts provided by Tejuosho.
To his surprise, rather than spend all the money for the execution of the contract, Suku said Tejuosho, who also the Chief Executive of Haleems Royal Homes, a real estate firm in Karshi, Nasarawa State, began to live extravagantly by criminally misappropriating the money on herself and her cronies.
Suku alleged that shortly after the last tranche of the payment was made, Tejuosho began to avoid him, by not picking his telephone calls.
Afraid about the strange behaviour of his estranged business partner, Suku said he sent his brother to the site to ascertain the extent of work on the contract, to ascertain how Tejuosho expended the funds received from him.
On visiting the site, Suku said his brother called to inform him that no work was ongoing at the project site, despite that almost half a billion Naira was disbursed to Tejuosho to finance the construction.
When he confronted her about his findings, Suku said Tejuosho began to make moves to flee the country, a development he said warranted him to ask his legal counsel to petition the Police Force about the alleged crime.
He said the police arrested Tejuosho after investigating and confirming the allegation. In the course of the investigation, Suku said Tejuosho’s account statements were obtained from the bank, which showed that she had squandered a sizeable part of the funds she collected on the acquisition of luxuries for herself.
For instance; Suku said the police found that Tejuosho acquired four luxury vehicles worth over N150 million, with the money, including a white colour Mercedes Benz GLE 450 SUV, White Colour, 2018 Model Range Rover Sport, Toyota Prado SUV and a Toyota Hilux Truck.
Also, Suku said she equally gave out scholarships with the funds to over 30 students at Espam Formation University, Cotonou, Benin Republic where she sits as Chancellor; engaged one Ifeoma Vivienne Obilor, an interior decorator, whom she paid several millions of Naira to decorate her house at Plot 125, Block A, Peace Garden Estate, Sangotedo Lagos, and bought furniture’s worth millions of Naira from Stanbest Lights and Furniture Limited.
In addition, Suku said Tejuosho also spent about N3.8 million on a soundproof generator for her house, and purchased electronic equipment from Cash and Carry Stores worth millions of Naira in January, 2022; bought clothes, shoes and gold jewelry valued at millions of Naira, while N200 million was transferred in tranches into a Heritage Bank account No. 5100351905 belonging to another of her company, Royal Apparel.
“The detailed investigation report had established a case of Advance Fee Fraud, Criminal Diversion of Funds, Criminal Breach of Trust and Cheating against Tejuosho and recommended her for prosecution,” Suku alleged in his application before the court.
He accused Tejuosho, who is also known to be a philanthropist and a chieftain of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), of jumping bail and making herself inaccessible since she was released from police detention on bail.
Tejuosho denies allegations
However, when this newspaper contacted Tejuosho through telephone on Monday, she vehemently denied all the allegations saying she has always been in her home and office in Lagos and had no reason to be on the run.
Excerpts of the telephone chat is bellow: “Allegations by Emmanuel Suku is not true. I got the contract. I di not just start doing business now. My company has been registered since 2009. I have done contracts with Nigerian Navy, Cross River State government and the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission). I have certificates of completion and all that. I am a major contractor with the Ecological Funds Office.
“So, he (Suku) approached me and said apart from his Cargo, if I have any other business, we could do together I should let him know. I got this contract and told him about.
“Everybody that knows me know I love good cars. I have Porshe, Bentley and all, because I work so hard. Sometimes I like to enjoy myself and make myself happy.
So, the project is self-funding. We have to get to a certain milestone before we start settlement. I told him before we can achieve that milestone, we were going to spend about N500 million.
Before he came into the project, I has already invested a lot. We had already done the ground breaking of the projects. In which the Minister of State of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was in attendance, along with Senator Rochas Okorocha and Emir of Karshi.
“The groundbreaking was done on the 500 units of land I purchased by myself for the project (250 hectares each for Phases 1 and 2). We had erected the gate house before he came into the picture.
“I said I had N200 million, and he said he can bring N300 million. We entered into an agreement for four years, starting from November 2021 to November 2024. The agreement did not state I will be doing a refund for him. He is an investor. The agreement said we were going to share profits after four years in the ratio of 70:30. My company takes 70 percent and he takes 30 percent.
He knows my house. He knows I know a lot of people. I facilitated a lot of awards from him. We even went to Dubai together in May 2022, where I was invited for a Model United Nations event and I put his name be one of the guest speakers.
“Then all of a sudden, this guy started making advances on me. I have some chats he call me all sorts of names. I was like I don’t mix business with pleasure. So, did you invest this money for ulterior motive? Because you are a married man. I don’t like it. We had a heated argument over the phone.
“When he brought the money, I bought the land for Phase 2 for N80 million. I sent him evidence. He says Kudos to you Ma well done. I made deposit of N50 million for quarry materials. I made a deposit for cement and got block molding machines, mixers, Lister and drilled bore hole. All these, I sent evidence to him. Even the person I bought the Phase 2 land from, I sent the contact to him for verification. We went ahead and paid the arrears of over N20million for the ground rent the land was having. I also paid for the processing of the Certificate of Occupancy.
“But later I go an information that some people were looking for land. And they went to the land I bought for Phase 2. But people who knew the land belonged to me got back to me that the people were the Ministry of Niger Delta Cooperative. And I was wondering about what was going on. I got in touch with the President of the Cooperative and said some people said you people were looking for land. I said which land again? I dug into the matter and discovered that they had gone to collect money from another developer. I told him (the President of the Cooperative), if you know I am going to refund the money you have already collected from me, do me an official letter stating that you have collected money from another developer. I did this because I wanted to have a record of their mischief.
“Them I called my partner (Suku) and told him what the Ministry agreed, but I would not let it happen. At this juncture, I need to put a hold on further work and ensure that we secure part of the money from Federal Mortgage Bank.
“Then, one day I was in the office and I got a call from people who said they were from Force CID. They said they had a petition against me, that I should come to their office. I got there and I saw Suku. The petition was that I forged a contract paper to defraud him. And I asked the officers if they went to the Ministry to verify the contract and the claim of forgery? They said no. I left.
“Immediately I got home, I called my lawyer and we filed for the enforcement of our fundamental right the following day. Three days after, I noticed that I could access some of my accounts. I contacted my account officer, and he confirmed that the directive to frozen my account was from Force CID.
“But I gathered from the Presidency that what they were trying to d was to terminate my contract and bring another company name to do the contract, which they were able to achieve, because eventually they sent me a letter of termination contract. The reason was due to police harassment and alleged case of fraud by Suku.
“I sent a message to him on what I discovered and his moves. I filed a suit and got my accounts unfrozen. I filed another civil suit against him for N1 billion, because he is the one that orchestrated the termination of that contract. So, I sued the Ministry and the Cooperative separately and (Suku) himself if you were the one that did that, which money is he asking me to pay back? What business do we have again together? So, court should be able to determine that.”
On allegations that she has left the country and made herself in accessible. Tejuosho said: “That is a lie. I am in Lagos as I speak to you. My lawyer has gone to court, trying to get a restraining order.”
At the last sitting the case was adjourned to January25, 2023 for continuation of hearing.