Babatunde Oriowo, husband of Nollywood actress, Laide Bakare, has debunked the fraud and theft story against him occasioned through a declaration by the EFCC and published recently in a national daily. The businessman, who is the CEO of Primavera Construction & Engineering Ltd, added that, contrary to EFCC’s statement declaring him wanted, he is not on the run because he has not committed any offence to warrant running away from his fatherland.
The businessman said that he was miffed by the EFCC declaration because he could not understand what the interest of EFCC was, as no court of law has indicted him for any offence and no warrant of arrest has ever been issued on him.
Nollywood actress, Laide Bakare, has also said that she is standing by her husband on the matter, believing that the EFCC publication was meant to destroy his hard-earned reputation as a philanthropist who derives joy in helping people, adding that the story was also a calculated attempt to smear her own name as a celebrity.
According to Mr. Orilowo, the EFCC and MTN were only out to blackmail him because the court case he instituted against EFCC, seeking an injunction to restrain the agency from arresting him or declaring him wanted, will be determine on the 28th of March 2014. Yet he was declared wanted on no basis many weeks before the hearing date.
LAIDE BAKARE AND HUSBAND Explaining the issue further, Mr. Orilowo said that “there was this MTN Cooperative whose membership is of MTN workers. Their union came together with this idea of a project called ‘Y’ello Estate’ to be built at Okun Ajah. That is my home town and where I do most of my businesses. So, based on my popularity and as a philanthropist who commands respect in the area, my company, Primavera Engineering & Construction Limited, was approached by MTN to help buy five hectares of land, which we did. Later, they came to us again and said oh, there are more demands, get us five hectares more. We did. The subscribers now became much interested in the project because they were going to make it the best of such Estates in Lagos”.
“We had an agreement from the beginning because they trusted us to deliver. The agreement was for me to; one, buy the lands; two, to ensure that the lands acquired were validly documented, and three, to be the sole developer of the Estate”.
“But some powerful people at MTN then came in after the agreement with the aim to hijack it. They saw the project as a laudable one and they were shocked that I was the only man handling the project. They came with an excuse that many people were bidding for it and it should not be a one-man thing. But I have spent close to one billion naira on this project. The agreement was for me to collect from MTN 20 percent of the money for mobilization and then go ahead to complete it with my personal money. And I have spent a lot on it. You know how big a project like an Estate can be; talk of roads, bridges and other amenities”.
“So, since the MTN had decided to bring in another developer and my company has committed so much into executing the project, I asked that the money I have spent so far be refunded. But when they were not forthcoming, I took the MTN Cooperative to court seeking to retrieve my money. We got judgment from Hon. Justice Olateru-Olagbegi. We then had negotiations with MTN based on the court judgment. Under the terms of settlement, MTN was to pay us substantial sums of money”.
“But MTN still refused to pay us, so we commenced third-party involvement proceedings against MTN which resulted in the issuance of an order freezing the bank accounts of MTN. While we await action on our money, MTN went to EFCC to lodge criminal complaints against us, alleging theft of money without disclosing the court proceedings on the issue. This was after the EFCC, on its own, had gone to court to institute criminal proceedings against us based on MTN’s complaints, which is still pending before the court”.