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Battle of the Titans: Abdulsamad Rabiu Overtakes Aliko Dangote in Nigeria

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By Eric Elezuo

Abdulsamad Rabiu’s consistent climb on the ladder of success has become phenomenal. The unassuming Chairman at BUA Group has become a study in entrepreneurial discipline, focus, philanthropy and intentional sacrifice. But what can actually be said of a man who has steadily evolved as one of Africa’s biggest investors, in fact, the biggest in the order of reckoning on the Nigerian Exchange. He has graciously used his BUA Foundation and the phenomenal Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative to not only affect lives, but ensured that the people of the world, especially his native Nigeria, live in better comfort. The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Bua Group, makers of quality cement, sugar, flour among other wonderful household items has been a epitome of enterprise. He is presently by divine and entrepreneurial orchestration the richest Nigerian investor, dethroning his closest rival, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. He is also the third richest man in the Africa, behind South African billionaire, Johann Rupert and Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote.

A recent list compiled by Billionaires in Africa has revealed the rankings on the Nigerian Exchange, NGX, showing that Abdulsamad Rabiu, the billionaire businessman and industrialist, has overtaken Aliko Dangote as the richest investor in the country.

According to data tracked by Billionaires.Africa, Rabiu’s holdings in his publicly-listed businesses on the local bourse are valued at an impressive $6.01 billion, making him the only investor with an investment portfolio worth over $6 billion. This is a feat that can only be achieved through wholesome business acumen and dedication. Dangote’s is presently valued at $5.8 billion.

Rabiu’s surge in wealth can be attributed to the remarkable growth in the market value of his stake in his unified food business, BUA Foods. The company currently ranks fifth most valuable on the Nigerian Exchange.

Since the beginning of the year, according to a report by Daily Independent, Rabiu’s stake in BUA Foods has witnessed a staggering 109-percent increase, fueled by the strong buying interest in the leading foods conglomerate. The industrialist, who founded BUA Group in 1988, holds a 96.29-percent stake in his flagship company, BUA Cement, both in his name and through his wholly-owned BUA International. The value of his stake in the company has now reached a whopping $3.008 billion.

Additionally, Rabiu owns a 92.6-percent stake in BUA Foods, which is currently worth $3 billion, bringing the total value of his holdings to $6.01 billion.

Despite facing political and economic challenges at the start of the year, BUA Foods managed to sustain its leadership position in the Nigerian economy.

The company reported an impressive profit growth of 77.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023, with profits rising from N22.84 billion ($47.6 million) to N4046 billion ($87.58 million).

This remarkable financial performance has boosted investor confidence and led to a triple-digit surge in BUA Foods’ share price since the beginning of the year. As a result, Rabiu has emerged as the new king of the Nigerian Exchange, overshadowing the legendary Dangote in the race for wealth supremacy.

Other of Rabiu’s fortunes improved as well giving him the leverage to finish the year 2022 and start 2023 on a high note:

BUA Foods’ shares jumped more than 10% from N40 ($0.0968) to N44 ($0.1065) as of January 6.

The company’s market capitalisation increased to N792 billion ($1.92 billion), as Rabiu’s fortune also increased from $5.3 billion to $7.2 billion.

In May 2023, Rabiu dusted South African billionaire, Nicky Oppenheimer, who currently has a net worth of $8.4 billion to hit the third richest man position in Africa with $8.6 billion. Abdul Samad Rabiu’s net worth has risen by over $3.7 billion in the past year; from $4.9 billion. He is a consistent achiever.

Early in 2022, he supervised the opening of a three million metric tonnes per annum BUA Cement Sokoto Line 4 Factory or 3MPTA BUA cement, line 4 cement plant, in Sokoto, which the then president, Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned, describing him as the biggest investor in Nigeria’s northwest region.

A thoroughbred stickler for excellence, Rabiu ensured that the BUA Cement Sokoto Line 4 was built to the following specifications: three million metric tonnes per annum capacity; 6,000 TPD ILC with the highest energy efficiency and latest pollution abating equipment; 48 MW dual fuel power Plant and so on. The Line 5 is already in the works.

Rabiu’s friends and colleagues in the industry have not minced words as they have described him as an entrepreneur who knows his onions as well as an industrialist of importance. His continuous feature on the Forbes list of billionaires in the world, is as a result of his inclination to creating wealth for others through the provision of veritable employment opportunities. Therefore, the impact of his businesses are felt on many lives and many homes.

THE INVINCIBLE ABDULSAMAD RABIU

Born August 4, 1960, in Kano, to one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu CON is a perfect combination of many things in one.

It was in his native Kano that he kick-started his academic pursuit, carousing through elementary education with ease as a gifted child, and obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. He was later admitted into the Federal Government College, Kano, where he had his secondary education, and gradually with honours.

With a combination of fate, brilliance and determination, Abdulsamad was catapulted to Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where he studiously studied Economics, and acquired his tertiary education before returning to Nigeria, all before his 24th birthday, to oversee his family business. He was that much sought after, and highly brilliant, and considered capable of holding fort for his father, who was being detained by the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari over matters concerning import duties.

In 1988, just after learning the ropes of entrepreneurial excellence, Abdul Samad Rabiu established BUA International Limited, for the sole purpose of commodity trading. The company followed after the footsteps of his father, and imported rice, edible oil, flour, iron and steel.

In 1990, having exhibited the character worthy of a world class entrepreneur, and the ability to execute classical projects, Rabiu’s BUA was invited by the government, which owned Delta Steel Company to supply its raw materials in exchange for finished products. This provided a much-needed leverage for the young company, and consequently expanded further into steel, producing billets, importing iron ore, and constructing multiple rolling mills in Nigeria.

Rabiu’s dexterity showed further a few years later, when the company acquired Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria, and there erupted the company’s and BUA’s influence and care over the people in the provision of affordable edible oil. His passion to see people excel in comfort has continued to make him churn out one great tiding after another, and endearing him in the hearts of the generality of the public.

A man with a vision for tomorrow, Rabiu, in 2005, started two flour-milling plants, in Lagos and in Kano, and by 2008, had broken an eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry by commissioning the second-largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa. This was a feat only a bravest of hearts could wroth. As a result, in 2009, the company went on to acquire a controlling stake in a publicly-listed Cement Company in Northern Nigeria and began to construct a $900 million cement plant in Edo State, completing it in early 2015. Rabiu’s passion for expansion is unequalled.

BUA Group has since concentrated and excelled in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture and producing a revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. This is in addition to being the chairman of the Bank of Industry (BOI).

The Group, in 2019, announced plans to merge its privately owned BUA Cement with the publicly traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc (CCNN), to create Nigeria’s second largest cement producer thereby consolidating the grip on the cement market and breaking its monopolistic status.

It is worthy of note that Cement Company of Northern Nigeria PLC in which Rabiu owned more than 97% was producing two million metric tons of cement per annum (Mtpa) while BUA Cement has an annual production capacity of 6Mtpa. The move is in line with the company’s resolve to deepen the Nigerian capital markets and enhance the growth of the cement industry.

Rabiu’s expansion strides cannot be complete without a mention of his extraordinary philanthropic gestures.

In April 2020, he made a whopping donation towards the fight to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic presently ravaging the country.

In a letter dated April 24, 2020, he personally signed and addressed to The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the billionaire businessman, congratulated the duo of the Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for doing a good job while observing that much as so much has been done, there was still need to do a lot more, as the disease continued to make inroads into many parts of the country, especially Lagos and Kano states.

“I view with deep concern, the increased rate of spread of the Coronavirus, especially in Kano and Lagos states despite concerted collective efforts to curb the spread and effects of the virus in Nigeria,” he said.

With sincere reference to ‘what is going on, especially in Kano at the moment’ the philanthropist, who had earlier donated N1 billion to the private sector led CACOVID and other states, announced the release of another N3.3 billion ‘grant to the working group made up of the Presidential Task Force, NCDC and other stakeholders in equipping two existing permanent facilities in Kano and Lagos states’.

He said: “To this end, I am immediately committing and making available – through the Bua Foundation two grants of Two Billion Naira for the Kano-based intervention and One Billion Naira for Lagos State being the two epicentres of this virus in Nigeria.”

Rabiu also informed that “a sum of N300 million will also be made available immediately in cash to the Presidential Task Force to assist with logistical and operational activities of the taskforce. This grant is in addition to BUA’s earlier contributions to the private sector led CA-COVID coalition and donations to other states.”

Giving directive on how the funds will be spent, the BUA Foundation Chairman hinted that the “working Group will be expected to use resources at its disposal to ensure these facilities – to be determined by the Working Group – are fully equipped in the shortest possible time.”

He further revealed his trust in the working group to judiciously use the grant for the purposes meant, saying “I believe this will effectively help to expand the scope of interventions, ongoing research as well support already stretched medical cities dedicated to this fight.”

Rabiu’s BUA had in March through a confirmed funds transfer to the COVID-19 relief fund account with the Central Bank of Nigeria redeemed its pledge of N1billion ($2.6m) to the fight against COVID-19. In addition, the company also announced another donation of N300 million to Sokoto, Edo and Ogun States to assist in galvanizing a coordinated response and adequate preparedness in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in this states. The donations to Sokoto and Edo States were on behalf of its Cement subsidiary, BUA Cement which has its major operations in those states whilst Ogun was also selected as a beneficiary due to its proximity to Lagos which had been the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria.

In total, Rabiu and his group donated N4.6 billion to the fight against the dreaded pandemic in a addition to other incentives, making them the single highest donor as at date.

In 2021, Rabiu’s focus bestowed on him the grace of becoming the biggest gainer in shares. According to Forbes, which listed the billionaire among the four top billionaires in Africa for the year, “shares of his BUA Cement PLC, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in January 2020, doubled in value in the past year. That pushed Rabiu’s fortune up by an extraordinary 77%, to $5.5 billion. One thing to note: Rabiu and his son together own about 97% of the company, giving the company a tiny public float. The Nigerian Stock Exchange requires that either 20% or more of a company’s shares to be floated to the public, or that the floated shares are worth at least 20 billion naira — about $50 million — a paltry sum, to be sure. A spokesman for the Nigerian Stock Exchange told Forbes that BUA Cement meets the second requirement. (Forbes discounts the value of stakes when the public float of a company is less than 5%.)”

Rabiu has constantly used his BUA Foundation for his philanthropic activities. Some of them include the construction of a 7,000-square-meter paediatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the construction of the Centre for Islamic Studies at Bayero University Kano amongst several others.

In January, 2022, using his Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative for Africa (ASR Africa) Security Sector Support Grant, he awarded  the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) N500 million each to boost operations.

He is known to have signed several major deals with French companies in recent times, from Axens as technical partner to his new refinery, to a 300tn plasterboard factory deal with French construction giant St Gobain. He followed it up with listing a segment of his business empire on the Lagos Stock Exchange.

In June 2021 therefore, when French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the France-Nigeria Business Council, a private sector initiative to enhance business relations between the two countries, Abdul Samad Rabiu was appointed its inaugural President. He had earlier been appointed Chairman of the France Nigeria Investment Club. These appointments drew encomiums from high places including former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The dashing Abdul Samad is married to his beautiful wife, and they are blessed with children, among whom are Isyaku Rabiu, Junaid Rabiu, Rukkayah Rania Rabiu and Khadijah Rabiu. He has 42 siblings including Nafiu Rabiu and Rabiu Rabiu, the chairman of IRS Airlines.

Rabiu’s abilities are compared only with the best. He is a force to reckon with in the field of enterprise and human capacity building. He is quite a gift to Nigeria, Africa and the world.

Attesting to Rabiu’s business ingenuity is not rocket science. Here is a man, who has taken his family-business practically to the next generation. It is a feat of no mean value considering that he is thriving in a country where businesses die with their founding fathers.

A toast to Nigeria’s richest investor! Congratulations sir!

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Boss Picks

Again, Ademola Adeleke Wins Governor of the Year Award

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By Eric Elezuo

Sequel to his nomination and conferment of the Governor of the Year honours by The Boss Newspaper, the Osun State Governor, Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke, has again be named the winner of the governor of the year award. This time, by Pa Sam Amuka’s Vanguard Newspapers.

The governor, who has been rated as performing, was hinted about his award when a team of senior officials of the newspaper, led by the General Editor, Mr Jide Ajani, paid him a courtesy visit in his Abere Government House office in Osogbo, Osun State.

Explaing the reason behind the choice of Governor Adeleke for the award, the team said the governor’s attention to Infrastructural development of the state, has been topnotch, with special emphasis to his approval of infra upgrades of several tertiary institutions in the state.

The governor, in his humility, has since dedicated the award to the entire people of Osun State.

A statement however, by the governor’s spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, captured the visit of the team in details. He wrote:

The management of Vanguard newspaper has shed light on why it is conferring Governor of the Year Award (Infrastructure) on Governor Ademola Adeleke, describing the process as ‘rigorous and merit based.

Speaking while on official visit to convey the award letter to the Governor, a top member of management and General Editor of Vanguard Newspaper, Mr Jide Ajani who led other management team members told the Governor that his choice for the award was prompted by credible reports of his achievements in infrastructural development of Osun State.

According to Ajani, the panel of judges became curious about the governance, leadership and managerial records of the Osun State Governor after watching a video of the Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University in which the Governor was reported to have approved several infra upgrades for the tertiary institution.

“We watched the video with the Vice Chancellor listing several approvals and even with the Governor asking the University to look into what other areas of intervention the state should act on. That video excites our curiosity and we proceeded to investigate further by leveraging on our team on ground here in Osun as well as a team from the headquarters.

“We discovered what the Vice Chancellor said in the video was a tip of the iceberg. Osun is indeed a huge construction site. You have continued to complete abandoned projects. You have completed many inherited projects from your predecessors

“We have your records on roads, bridges, water, school and health center upgrades among others. We read your multi-billion naira infrastructure plan and its ongoing implementation. You did not play politics with the development of your state.

“It is the totality of your passion for development that convinced the judges to confer the award on you. It is our hope that this recognition will spur you to an even greater push to deliver on your governance agenda”, Ajani who led the Vanguard team noted.

Responding, Governor Adeleke accepted the award and affirmed that the recognition is dedicated to the people of Osun State whom he said gave him the rare opportunity to serve as the Number One Citizen of the State.

“I thank the Management of Vanguard newspaper for this recognition. I was with Pa Sam Amuka recently and I must confess that I learnt from his wealth of wisdom. This award coming less than two years in office strengthens my conviction that selfless service to the people should be the aspiration of all leaders.

“Since I assumed office, I have devoted myself majorly to delivering on our five point agenda. I deploy my network locally and nationally in support of our noble projects and programmes for Osun. I am elated that our contributions are being noticed.

“I dedicate this award to the good people of Osun state. They made our positive records a reality. We have the unconditional support and love of our people in our push to take Osun to greater heights. I will personally attend the conferment in Lagos.

“Our government is forging ahead with our systematic physical and stomach infrastructure agenda. We are working on a new airport, an inland beach resort, cocoa sector revival, upgrade of the free trade zone for agro-industrialisation, robust climate change agenda and digital economy programme. We are on a mission to place Osun on the path of sustainable development”, the Governor told the visiting delegation.

THE MAN, ADEMOLA JACKSON ADELEKE 

Born of the Adeleke family of Ede in Osun State on May 13, 1960, Adeleke commenced his primary education at Methodist Primary School, Surulere Lagos State before he was privileged to relocate to Old Oyo State to continue his education at Nawarudeen Primary School, Ikire.

Adeleke was born Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke to a Muslim father and Nnena Esther Adeleke, an Igbo Christian mother. Like him, Adeleke’s father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was a Senator and the Balogun of Ede land in Osun State. His father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was also the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

On completion of his primary education, he moved on to The Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Ede to begin his post primary schooling. In the later years however, he attended Ede Muslim Grammar School Ede, where he completed his secondary school education and subsequently relocated to the United States of America, joining his two older brothers, who were also studying there.

In the United States, he joined Jacksonville State University, Alabama, and studied Criminal Justice, with minor in Political Science.

To prove doubting Thomases, who wiped up controversies around his educational qualification, wrong, he went back to school and got enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2021.

A businessman and administrator of no mean repute, Adeleke was the humble Group Executive Director at his brother’s company, Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016, where his credible performances shot the company to enviable heights; a height it is still enjoying till date.

It is imperative to note that before he joined Pacific Holdings Limited, Senator Adeleke worked with Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor from 1985 to 1989. His dexterity to work earned him a progression in career, and he berthed as Vice President at Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company. His meritorious stewardship lasted a period of five years, from 1990 to 1994.

Not a few has described Adeleke as the philanthropic capital of Ede, as his influence in aiding the less privileged and downtrodden remains top notch. He is a voracious believer in community development, and has not spared any expense to see that his community receives global influence.

Politically, Adeleke is a beacon of light and hard nut to crack, having remained an albatross to opposing powers and a reference point to ideal administration.

Shortly after he lost his brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died in April 2017, he contested the Osun West 2017 Senatorial by-election after the death of his brother, emerging as the winner under the Peoples Democratic Party, where he decamped to from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Having emerged senator, Adeleke’s political influence waxed stronger, an on July 23, 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes. Efforts made to deprive him of the mandate was twated by the courts.

Adeleke’s lawyer in his defense claims his secondary school hasn’t come out to deny his testimonial asking the court to dismiss the Case. The court dismissed the suit stating that the plaintiff could not prove Adeleke’s forgery.

Adeleke ran for Osun state governorship election under the PDP against top contenders Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of APC and Iyiola Omisore of SDP on 22 September 2018. The election was declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) while Adeleke was leading, and a rerun slated on September 27, 2018. The candidate of the APC Oyetola was declared winner after the run-off. Adeleke protested the result describing the election as a “coup”.

Much as on March 22, 2019, the tribunal sitting in Abuja declared Adeleke the winner of the election, the Supreme Court later affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the authentic winner of the 2018 Osun State governorship election on Friday, July 5, 2019

Popularly known as the Dancing Senator because of his penchant to joyfully react to the sounds of music, Adeleke is uncle to one of Nigeria’s popular musicians, Davido.

Governor Adeleke is married to an equally successful businesswoman and a self-made boss. They are blessed with three children who are all entertainers. They are B-Red and Shina Rambo and a daughter, Nike Adeleke. He is the uncle of one Nigeria’s primus inter pares in entertainment, Davido.

As expected, Adeleke is moving Osun State to the greatest of heights as he promised, and many who know him agree that there are still very many more in the offing.

HIS EXTRAORDINARY EASE OF DOING BUSINESS STRATEGY 

The governor has shared good news on the ease of doing business in the state as follows:

In continuation of our administration’s effort to improve the state economy and encourage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), we have completed the harmonization of multiple taxes and levies collected by different government departments, agencies, and ministries across all business sectors of the state economy including the informal sectors into a single bill. This Harmonized Bill curates all levies, which businesses are expected to pay on an annual basis as a single bill.

This initiative is to promote ease of doing business by ensuring seamless and convenient payment of levies and taxes due to individuals and businesses across the state in equal or unequal tranches and ensure the issuance of Harmonized Bill Certificate upon completion of payment of the total amount.

I hereby note to all business owners in Osun state both in formal and informal sectors that the official online payment channels for the state is pay.irs.os.gov.ng; POS machines in Tax stations across the state; commercial banks across Nigeria; and Money Transfer Services for those outside Nigeria.

In addition, we have also completed the deployment of Automation System for improved service delivery on payment of rent and lease on government properties; processing of Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) in 45 days; Electronic Affidavit System; Electronic State of Origin and Local Government Area of Origin portal; Mobile tax stations; Online Tax payment system etc.

ADMINSTRATION’S ACHIEVEMENTS AS SHARED ON NEW YEAR DAY

The governor declared as follows:

The good people of Osun state at home and abroad.

I greet you warmly with best wishes of a prosperous and blessed new year. I convey my intimate prayers that the new year will bring us new opportunities, progress and advancement as a state and in our individual lives.

I extend new year greetings to the elders of Osun state; to our royal fathers; to our religious leaders; to the young and the old; to professional elite, to artisans, to students and to womenfolk. Accept my sincere appreciation for your support before my election and for the last one year of my governorship of our dear state. I am humbled by your prayers and mass backing for our administration.

I remain firmly focused on the Five Point Agenda under which you, Osun people, elected us into office. We reaffirm our faith in the principles guiding the five point agenda which are transparency and accountability, open government, localisation, responsive leadership and attunement to citizens’ aspirations.

On the strength of the above, our government devised wholesale approach to governance such as:

●Dismantling bobby traps planted by our predecessor,
●Blocking leakages in public finance, ●Addressing the corruption and revenue diversion in the solid mineral sector,
● Restoring local government administration for grassroot development
● Embarking on mass water project provision
● Executing 91 kilometers of road construction
● Implementing free medical surgeries with over 50,000 beneficiaries;
● Total renovation of 31 schools
● Launching sport sector reforms
● Reviving the major commercial and industrial projects of the state
● Pushing for implementation of agric processing zone in Osun state;
● re-professionalisation of the public service;
● Strong attention to workers’ welfare;
● Tapping into tourism, entertainment and cultural potentials of the state;
● Ramping up efforts for a cargo and commercial airport for Osun state, among others.

Our administration achieved a lot by ensuring belt tightening, reducing cost of governance and denying ourselves many perquisites of office. As a Governor, my official expenditures are covered through the approval process rather than security votes, thereby assuring transparency and accountability.

As of today, our administration is struggling to purchase official vehicles for the state cabinet because the officials of the previous government bolted away with state vehicles. So our cabinet and other top officials have been using their private cars since we appointed them into office. Also, we are still working to renovate the official quarters vandalized by the officials of previous governments. Many of our top officials still operate from their private houses.

Despite the above handicap, our team is determined to continue to deliver on our electoral promises. I am glad to report with gratitude to God that we have remained responsive to the will and aspirations of our people. We get positive feedback and we are satisfied with our high approval ratings.

We are challenged to do more. We are prepared to make corrections where necessary as much as we will remain uncompromising when it comes to anti-corruption drive, transparency and accountability as well due process. As I always affirm, our tenure is married to rule of law and fear of God.

As a people, our nation is passing through serious economic challenges. As a sub-national entity ,Osun, like all other states within the federation ,bears harsh consequences of inflationary crisis, high cost of living and unstable exchange rates. These are macro and micro economic issues largely beyond the purview of the state governments.

In this national economic crisis, the Federal Government through the National Economic Council attempted to create a collective focus for a solution. All states committed themselves to this national joint effort. This resulted in specific interventions designed to cushion the negative fallouts of the national dislocation in the national economy.

We, as a state government, commend President Bola Tinubu for his relentless action towards economic restoration. But as we all know and as we are still experiencing, the economic crisis continues unabated despite the best of efforts. Osun, through the National Economic Council, is collaborating with the central government to support federal initiatives targeted at reducing inflation, cost of living and stabilising the national economy…

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Boss Picks

Guinness World Record: Celebrating Chess Guru, Tunde Onakoya

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By Eric Elezuo

In conformity with Guinness World Records guidelines that any attempt to break the longest chess playing record must be made by two players who would play continuously for the entire duration, Nigeria’s chess master, Tunde Onakoya, has shattered the record, setting a new record of 60 unbroken hours.

For every hour of game played, Onakoya and his opponent got only five minutes’ break. He also played against Shawn Martinez, an American chess champion.

The chess champion engaged child education advocate in the nonstop game for 60 hours in New York City’s Times Square in the long run to breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

 

The 29 years old Onakoya originally set out to play the royal game for 58 hours but continued until he reached 60 hours at about 12:40am (04:40GMT) on Saturday, surpassing the current chess marathon record of 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved in 2018 by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebo and Sjur Ferkingstad.

Speaking to AFP News Agency,  Onakoya recalled the road to triumph, saying “I can’t process a lot of the emotions I feel right now. I don’t have the right words for them. But I know we did something truly remarkable.

“[At] 3am last night, that was the moment I was ready to just give it all up… but Nigerians travelled from all over the world. And they were with me overnight,” he said.

AP reports that Onakoya hopes to raise $1 million for children’s education across Africa through the record attempt that began on Wednesday.

Though the Guinness World Record organization has yet to publicly comment about Onakoya’s attempt, it is generally believed that the Nigerian adhered to all regulations guiding the game and the record. It sometimes takes weeks for the organization to confirm any new record.

Onakoya confirmed that support had been grew for him online and at the scene, where a blend of African music kept onlookers and supporters entertained amid cheers and applause. Among the dozens who cheered Onakoya on at the scene was Nigerian music star Davido.

When finally confirmed, Onakoya would join the likes of Hilda Baci and Rhema, who also at one time or another smashed the Guinness World Record.

Tunde Onakoya Born on October 6, 1994, Onakoya, known recently as the holder of the Guinness World Records for the longest marathon chess game, is the founder of Chess in Slums Africa.

He has also organised a number of interventions for children across slums in Lagos state including Majidun (Ikorodu), Makoko and recently, Oshodi. The children are engaged in a two-week session that seeks to unlock their potential through the game of chess while learning to read, write and acquire basic literacy skills.

Wikipedia describes Onakoya’s trajectory as follows: “Onakoya learned to play chess at a barber’s shop in a slum in Ikorodu, Lagos where he grew up. Being unable to pay for his secondary school, his mother offered to work for a school as a cleaner in exchange for his school fees. He would later be ranked as the number 13 chess player in Nigeria.

“Onakoya got a diploma in computer science at Yaba College of Technology where he was a gold medalist representing the school in Nigeria Polytechnic Games and also at the RCCG Chess Championship. He has also won the National Friends of Chess and the Chevron Chess Open.

“Onakoya was featured in CNN African Voices.

“Onakoya is a board member of the New York City-based non-profit The Gift of Chess.”

Congratulations!

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Threat to Life, Property: Aderinokun’s Wife Cries Out to Sanwo-Olu

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By Eric Elezuo

Mrs. Olufunlola Aderinokun, widow of late former Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Bank, Tayo Aderinokun, has raised alarm over illegal, dangerous construction and encroachment into her property, Rehoboth Place, situated along Banana Island Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, by the Shell Staff Cooperative Investment and Thrift Society Limited, alerting Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu through an S.O.S letter to intervene, call the offenders to order, and save her building, its occupants and the general public from more present and unforeseen harm.

Speaking exclusively to The Boss, Mrs. Aderinokun lamented the recalcitrant stance of the Shell Staff Cooperative Investment and Thrift Society Limited, whose building shares a common perimeter fence with Rehoboth Place, and how they have continued their illegal construction, which has consistently defaced Rehoboth Place, in spite of cautions and deterring efforts employed by the government and the residents of Rehoboth Place.

“You need to visit the site to see how these people have defaced an already sitting building, causing structural damages as well as keeping residents of Rehoboth Place on their toes for fear of more structure collapse and/or imminent danger to lives,” she said.

Recalling that Rehoboth Place was built since 2016 according to all laid down construction rules and specifications, she further stated that on many occasions, the scaffolds and other heavy duty equipment including spanners and huge iron bars, used by the Shell Staff Coop builders, have collapsed and dropped into Rehoboth Place building, causing untold structural defacing and fear of possible fatal bodily harm to the residents. This, according to her, is because the Shell Staff Coop building is less than two metres away from the common fence, while the recommended spacing is from six meters.

Recounting to The Boss the genesis of her ordeal with the building developers and the Lagos State government with the General Manager of Lagos State Building Control Agency and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whom she believes is showing unbelievable favour to Shell Staff Coop at the expense of injuries to lives and properties at Rehoboth Place, Mrs Aderinokun, a 67 years old retired widow, who claims that she can neither sleep well in her own bedroom nor park her car in her own compound because of the noise, danger, debris and mutilation from the Shell Staff Coop construction, narrated that the whole illegality, as she termed it, is dated back to 2020, when the Shell Staff Coop building construction started the piling work.

“As at then, I was not in the country, and because of the COVID-19 issue, many things were played down. However, when I returned to the country in August 2021, after one and half years away from Nigeria, I discovered that they had damaged my property, Rehoboth Place, extensively. My own letting agent didn’t tell me, but was rather negotiating with the offenders on how to repair the damages. Naturally, I was furious and demanded both a halt on the project and thorough compensation for the extensive damage. Note that by then, at Rehoboth Place, a bungalow, the bore hole, the perimeter fence, and other structures were already completely compromised beyond repair.

“However, in 2023, I mobilised structural engineers and the company that built Rehoboth Place originally, Cappa and D’Alberto Ltd, to begin repairs of all the damages that Shell Staff Coop caused. The Engineers wrote off the compromised bungalow and common fence, and insisted that they must be brought down completely before repairs could commence.

“However, while they were carrying out repair and reconstruction works, materials from the Shell Staff Coop construction continued to drop inside the compound from very high levels, making it impossible for safe and healthy work to continue at Rehoboth Place. Debris of cement, water, polystyrene particles and bars, tools and other dangerous materials were constantly dropping into Rehoboth Place from high levels, and so the workmen had to abandon the job, and ran for dear life. It wasn’t safe. It was not healthy. Cappa & D’Alberto Ltd wrote to demobilise from the site of Rehoboth Place in July 2023, and cannot return to the site till date because of the danger from Shell Staff Coop construction, while Lagos State looks away!

“As at today, I can’t park my car in my own compound. The huge terrace at Rehoboth Place, next to the building of Shell Staff Coop and the swimming pool at Rehoboth Place, have not been usable since May 2023, till date. While I was getting ready to sue Shell Staff Coop for the damages caused to the building, the scaffolding of Shell Staff Coop fell on the 5th floor of Rehoboth Place on 19th July 2023. This could amount to a criminal offence under the laws of Lagos State as it constitutes danger to human life and public safety,” she said.

Mrs Aderinokun’s complaints to the Lagos State Building Control Agency, under Mr Gbolahan Oki, led to an inspection and subsequent sealing of the site to stop further construction in July 2023.

“Mr Oki stated to me over the phone on 1st November 2023 that the Shell Staff Coop will pay for the damages, and that, ‘even if it’s the governor that is the one building there, they (Lagos State) will do the right thing’. I’m surprised that Mr. Oki is the one who’s no longer responding to the matter today. And on January 15, 2024, the Lagos State government allowed Shell Staff Coop to return to site, and resume construction, alarmingly without addressing any of the reasons for sealing up the Shell Staff Coop building for almost 6 months! The knocks from the close construction of Shell Staff Coop woke me up from my bed on 15th January 2024 and have continued until now, 7 days a week,” she noted.

As a follow up, Aderinokun recalled that on January 20, 2024, writing in her capacity as the Director of her company, Quadro Investment Limited, owner of the property, Rehoboth Place, she again appealed to the Lagos State Building Control Agency via the General Manager, and re-detailed the hazards that the construction of the Shell Staff Coop portend, and continues to unleash, and appealed that the government should put a stop to the building or at most curtail the dangers inherent. She wondered why the construction was allowed to resume six months after sealing up, with nothing to show that due diligence has been done.

The letter, which was titled “Re: Construction of Multiple Storey Building Against Building Regulations Along Banana Island Road, Etisalat LGA, Ikoyi, Lagos, Which Shares a Common Perimeter Fence with Our Property, Rehoboth Place”, reminded the Agency that the ongoing construction of the Shell Staff Coop, was sealed up by Lagos State officials on July 25 2023, when they visited and they discovered certain unpalatable infractions including absence of airspace and protection against damage to the adjoining premises of Rehoboth Place and others, among many other inanities.

In their capacity as a regulatory agency, the LSBCA had, in July 2023, assessed the scene and discovered as follows:

1. That the safety nets were not properly installed,

2. Blockade of public drainage facilities as a result of the construction work,

3. Damage of adjoining property due to effects of construction,

4. Inadequate airspace of right side of the structure.

Therefore, the Agency came up with certain recommendations, which were pasted on the fence of the construction site of Shell Building Cooperative. The recommendation was a point-blank order to stop the construction of the building as a result of the following reasons: 1. The development was unauthorized 2. The development did not conform to the planning permit issued by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority. 3. There’s no authorization to commence construction by LSBCA as required by law, and 4. The structure erected is contrary to Building Control Standards.

The Agency concluded its recommendation with sealing up authorization that the building should stop henceforth with the service of the Order.

“That was on 25 July 2023, but the construction resumed on 15 January 2024 with no evidence of the noted hazards controlled, and events at the site have continued to put Rehoboth Place and its occupants in harm’s way, The 10 inches spanner fell onto the ground floor of Rehoboth Place on 29th January 2024, from a height of about 7 or more floors of the building of the Shell Staff Coop! If the spanner had fallen on the head of anyone at Rehoboth Place, the fatality that could have happened can only be imagined” Aderinokun lamented.

The letter is presented in details below:

22 January 2024.

The General Manager,
Lagos State Building Control Agency,
Muiz Banire Street,
Off Oba Akinjobi Way,
GRA, Ikeja.

Dear Sir,

RE: CONSTRUCTION OF MULTIPLE STOREY BUILDING AGAINST BUILDING REGULATIONS ALONG BANANA ISLAND ROAD, ETI-OSA L.G.A. IKOYI, LAGOS; WHICH SHARES A COMMON PERIMETER FENCE WITH OUR PROPERTY REHOBOTH PLACE.

The above-described development, which is an ongoing construction and adjacent to our property, Rehoboth Place (at Plots 16-17, along Banana Island Road, Ikoyi, Lagos) was sealed up by your agency on 25th July 2023 for a number of infractions, amongst which were the absence of protection and airspace against damage to the adjoining premises of Rehoboth Place and others. Please find attached here, copies of the contravention notice and stop work order pasted by your Agency on the construction site.

On 16th January 2024, work recommenced at the construction and it appears that the property has been unsealed. This is despite the continued absence of protection on the construction works and airspace to Rehoboth Place. As a result, both our property (Rehoboth Place) and its occupants have been placed back at risk of suffering substantial damage, serious injury and/or death due to debris and other things falling into Rehoboth Place from the construction site. Please find attached here, photos of some of the items that have fallen into Rehoboth Place from the adjoining construction site before the sealing up of the site by your Agency.

Further, the building remains less than the stipulated distance from its boundary with Rehoboth Place, which is a clear, and continuing breach of building regulations.

In the circumstances, we are left to speculate as to the reasons why the construction site has been permitted to continue, even as the specific contraventions, for which it was ordered to stop work, continue un-remediated, almost 6 months later. It would appear that the attitude that has resulted in a number of building tragedies in Lagos State continues to prevail within your Agency.

We hereby notify you that we will not fold our arms and do nothing, while our property is exposed to further trespass and the possibility of serious injury and/or loss of life to its occupants. Should any injury and/or death be suffered by anyone at all, please be in no doubt that a report will be made to law enforcement agencies and the contents of this letter and those of our other appeals to Lagos State on this matter, will be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities.

In the circumstances, we are constrained to issue this notice demanding that you enforce the building regulations on the above-stated construction works, failing which we shall have no option, other than to institute legal proceedings to compel you to fulfil your statutory obligations.

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,
Olufunlola K. Aderinokun.
Director.

With no commensurate response from the LSBCA, and the sensing the criminal intent, Aderinokun petitioned the Commissioner of Police, CP Fayoade, and copied the AIG zone 2, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the Commissioner for Environment, to use his good office to stop the construction before injuries or even death are recorded.

The letter is produced below:

20 February 2024.

The Commissioner of Police,
Lagos State Police Headquarters,
Muiz Banire Street,
GRA, Ikeja,
Lagos State.

Dear Sir,

RE: PETITION ON THE BUILDING CONSTRUCTION THAT IS AGAINST PUBLIC SAFETY, CONTRARY TO SECTION 123 OF THE CRIMINAL LAW OF LAGOS STATE, 2015, CURRENTLY TAKING PLACE AT THE PROPERTY THAT ADJOINS REHOBOTH PLACE (A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT) SITUATE ALONG BANANA ISLAND ROAD, IKOYL, LAGOS.

We are the owner of Rehoboth Place, situate at Plots 16-17, Banana Island Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The construction works adjoining Rehoboth Place belongs to, The Shell Staff Cooperative Investment and Thrift Society Limited, whose office address is at Freeman House, 21/22 Marina, Lagos State.

Please refer to the above subject matter and the self-explanatory letter, which is attached here, dated 22 January 2024, written by us to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LSBCA).

In addition to the contents and attachments to our said letter written to the LSBCA, please find attached here, photos of 3 (three) more injurious items, which fell into Rehoboth Place from the adjoining compound at various times.

The big blue piece of iron (contained in the attachment to the letter to the LSBCA), which weighs about 8 kilograms, fell from the adjoining compound into Rehoboth Place, sometime in July 2023, while the 10 inches spanner, fell from the adjoining compound into Rehoboth Place at about 10.45am on 29th January 2024. The iron rod that is about 60 inches long, weighs two & a half kilograms.

All the items fell onto the ground floor of Rehoboth Place from heights of 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th floors of the adjoining construction works, which are obviously being constructed, too close to Rehoboth Place and other neighbouring properties, in contravention of the building laws, regulations and permits of Lagos State.

We hereby, humbly appeal to your office, to take all necessary action to investigate the ongoing danger to human life and public safety, that is being posed by the owners and occupiers of the property adjoining Rehoboth Place.

Furthermore, we appeal to you, to use your good offices to ensure that the said dangerous construction works, which are being carried out in the adjoining compound to Rehoboth Place are stopped immediately before any further crime in committed, particularly before the occurrence of any loss of life or serious injury to anyone,

We trust in your kind and urgent attention to this matter.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
DIRECTOR.

Cc:
1. The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice,
Lagos State Ministry of Justice,
The secretariat, Block 2,
Alausa, Ikeja.

2 The Assistant Inspector-General of Police,
The Nigeria Police Force, Zone 2,
Command Headquarters,
King George V Road, Onikan,
Lagos State.

3. The Commissioner of Environment and Water Resources,
Ministry of Environment and Water Resources,
The Lagos State secretariat,
Alausa, Ikeja.

With no response from the General Manager, Mr Gbolahan Oki, the Rehoboth Place owner, having established a criminal intent with the Police, resorted to writing the governor one more time, whom she had been privileged to discuss the matter with via phone and in person on several occasions. It is on record that Aderinokun had earlier on August 8, 2023 and November 28, 2023 written to the governor on the same issue. But like the manager of Lagos State Building Control Agency, neither the governor nor his office responded.

“They practically called my bluff, without a care of what their silence and inaction on these matters is causing to me personally, to other members of the public and/or may cause in the future,” Aderinokun said.

Below is the full letter addressed to the governor:

29th February 2023.

Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu,
Executive Governor,
Lagos State of Nigeria,
Governor’s Office,
Alausa,
Lagos State.

Dear Mr. Governor,

PLEASE, SAVE OUR SOULS.

RE: IN RESPECT OF THE ONGOING CONSTRUCTION OF MULTIPLE STOREY BUILDING AGAINST BUILDING REGULATIONS ALONG BANANA ISLAND ROAD, ETI-OSA L.G.A. IKOYI, LAGOS; POSING A DANGER TO THE ADJOINING PROPERTY-REHOBOTH PLACE AND HAS CAUSED STRUCTURAL DAMAGES & COLLAPSE OF STRUCTURES AT REHOBOTH PLACE.

I am the managing director of Quadro Investment Limited, the registered owner of Rehoboth Place, which is situated at Plots 16-17, along Banana Island Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, built and completed in the year 2016.
The owner of the ongoing construction which shares a common fence with Rehoboth Place, is Shell Staff Co-operative Investment & Thrift Society Limited (hereinafter called, “Shell Staff Cooperative”) with office address at Freeman House, 21/22 Marina, Lagos.
I am hereby writing an S.O.S., Save Our Souls to Mr. Governor for the reasons set out below.

1. People are continuously exposed to danger of serious injury and/or death at Rehoboth Place because the Lagos State authorities have allowed the construction work by Shell Staff Cooperative to continue, despite the danger it poses to the neighbourhood, its continuous pollution to the environment and the fact that it does not meet the building laws and regulations of Lagos State.

2. In respect of this subject matter, Quadro Investment Limited has written to:
2.1 you, Mr. Governor, by its letters dated 08 August 2023 and 28th November 2023;

2.2 the Lagos State Building Control Agency by its letter dated 22 January 2024;

2.3 the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, by its letter dated 20 February 2024. This letter was copied to, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Nigeria Police Force and the Commissioner of Environment and Water Resources, Lagos State.
Copies of the letters stated in 2.2 and 2.3 above are attached here.

3. In addition to the above, I have made several personal appeals to you, imploring you to grant me an audience to meet with you, to explain the situation to you after my letters and for you to look into this matter and direct Lagos State authorities to ensure that its own Building Regulations and Laws are adhered to in the construction by Shell Staff Cooperative. Unfortunately, all my efforts appear to have been ignored.

4. The on-going construction by Shell Staff Cooperative, which is on its 9th floor and still going up, stands less than 2 meters to its common fence with Rehoboth Place and has caused extensive damage, including collapse of structures at Rehoboth Place. It is posing a danger to life and health in the neighbourhood and at Rehoboth Place. While Lagos State has allowed the construction by Shell Staff Cooperative to continue, the owners of Rehoboth Place cannot use their own property, for fear of danger to life!!

5. Injurious and life-threatening items like big iron bars, weighing 8kg, other iron rods weighing 3kg and 1kg, a 10 inches long spanner, huge polypyrene bars have fallen from heights of 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th floors of the ongoing construction by Shell Staff Cooperative into the ground floor of Rehoboth Place at various times in 2023, and on 29th January 2024. Also, rains of construction water, cement, dust and particles of polypyrene and nylon continuously shower and fly into the airspace, terraces, swimming pool, onto motor vehicles, other valuable properties and indoor living areas at Rehoboth Place. Please find attached hereto, photos to back this up.

6. The scaffolding being used for the construction by Shell Staff Cooperative fell onto the 5th floor of Rehoboth Place on 19th July 2023, which led to a Contravention Notice and a Stop Work Order being pasted on the construction site of Shell Staff Cooperative on 25 July 2023. Please find photos attached here. From then on, the site remained closed for work, for about 6 months, until 15th January 2024, when work suddenly resumed at the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative, without addressing a single one of the reasons for the sealing up of the premises as stated in the Contravention Notice, including the non-application of safety net on the construction site. Please find attached here, shown in the videos recorded in the flash drive and photos of the dangling scaffolding on Rehoboth Place.

7. Since 15th January 2024, construction by Shell Staff Cooperative have continued, 7 days a week, including outside regulated working hours in a residential area, during night time hours, without any regard for neighbours. They start as early as 7am, waking me up from my sleep with consistent provocative sounds of hammer/iron knocking on iron, 7 days a week, week after week, without any break. Also, on 26th of January 2024, I was woken up from my sleep at 12.00 midnight because of the noise of the truck, working past midnight at the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative. Please find the proof of this shown in the videos recorded in the flash drive attached here.

8. The non-stop early morning knocking noise (7 days a week) from construction by Shell Staff Cooperative have had untold impact on my brain, psychology and well-being. Part of the reasons that certain distances are prescribed and legislated between buildings, is to avoid noise from one building into another. Since 15th January 2024 to date, it has been like living on a construction site at Rehoboth Place, every day, non-stop, and not a single day of break. Sir, please permit me to add here, that by God’s grace, I am a 67 (sixty-seven) years old widow, resident and indigene of Lagos State.

9. I cannot walk around my compound, I cannot park my car in my own home at Rehoboth Place and we are not able to use our terraces, because of the showers of cement, dirt, dust and polystyrene particles raining from the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative, onto our cars, other valuables and terraces at Rehoboth Place. Also, we have not been able to use the swimming pool at Rehoboth Place since April 2023 up to the date of this appeal. Please find attached here, the photo of the unhealthy materials from the construction by Shell Staff Cooperative inside the pool and on our terraces at Rehoboth Place, even inside our flower pots on the 5th floor!!!

10. Yet, Lagos State is looking away from this blatant disregard of its building regulations and laws, pollution of the environment, to favour the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative at the expense of the users of Rehoboth Place.

11. Meanwhile, Lagos State recently banned the use of styrofoams and single use plastics in the State. Sir, it is my humble opinion that Lagos State needs to go further and ban the use of polystyrene in construction sites. The construction workers of Shell Staff Cooperative have been seen cutting into smaller bars, at high levels of 6th, 7th, 8th floors, huge polystyrene bars, without any protection, thereby spraying unhealthy particles of polystyrene, with high health hazards to the neighbourhood and onto Rehoboth Place.

12. Also shown in the videos recorded in the flash drive attached to this letter, is the video of Mr. Gbolahan Oki, the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency when he visited Rehoboth Place on 2nd November 2023. Unfortunately, Mr. Oki has not matched his words with actions and instead, has allowed the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative to continue, despite the potential of the occurrence of a catastrophe.

13. Sir, my life and the lives of others are being put to danger by the construction of Shell Staff Cooperative, particularly because of its closeness to Rehoboth Place.

14. Sir, I’m not willing to wait until people are seriously injured and/or someone dies, before I cry out to the public. There is a potential of criminal offence being committed by the closeness of the constructions of Shell Staff Cooperative to Rehoboth Place. The photos and videos that I have attached here and the sealing up of the construction by Shell Staff Cooperative for about 6 months by Lagos State, speak volumes and I am sincerely not exaggerating.

15. Again, I hereby personally implore Mr. Governor, to use your good office to ensure that another unfortunate catastrophe related to building collapse, serious human injury and/or death does not happen in Lagos State, in this matter.

Sir, I am trusting in your speedy good judgement in this matter. Thank you, Sir.

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Olufunlola K. Aderinokun (née Agusto).

It will be noted that building collapse has remained a recurring decimal in Lagos State. One can recall that a massive Ikoyi building, located not too far from Rehoboth Place, collapsed in 2022, and claimed lives of prominent Nigerians with many other budding professionals.

“All we are doing is to prevent a disaster lurking in the corner, and for me to have a safe and peaceful possession of my property,” Aderinokun concluded.

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