Land sales appear to be thriving a business in Nasarawa State but with it comes the problem of racketeering. Benefitting from its close proximity to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the state’s land assets have appreciated over the years, with many buying for residential buildings in towns and for farming in rural communities.
Thus, many landowners often fraudulently sell a piece of land to two or more buyers.
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Danladi Anva, a 55-year-old security guard with the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) in the Sabon Pegi Area of Lafia LGA of Nasarawa State, recently committed suicide after he allegedly sold a piece of land to two people and was arrested by security agents.
Daily Trust gathered that he had allegedly sold a plot of land to a woman in the same Pegi area for N150,000 in 2021 but resold the same land to another client for N230,000 in 2022.
Anva, a farmer who was said to have become distraught after his arrest, was alleged to have ingested a pesticide to end his life.
He died four days after he was released from police detention at the “B” Divisional Police Station at Azuba Bashayi, Lafia LGA of the state, on June 6, 2022.
Narrating the predicament that led to the death of his late father to Daily Trust in Lafia, his 27-year-old son, Yohanna Anva, said his parents gave birth to six children, but one died.
According to him, when he heard that two separate people paid for his father’s land, he approached him to get clarification on the matter but that he did not say anything to him. He added that as time went on, he thought his father had paid off the woman who first bought the land, so he didn’t bother to ask again.
“I never knew that he did not return the money until towards the end of May 2022, when the woman came to our house and angrily informed us that someone had trespassed on her land,” Yohanna said.
Yohanna, who is the oldest child of the deceased, disclosed that his father was at the police station for a few days, lamenting that they went through hell before he was released from detention.
“The whole thing is still like a dream to me. It is still hard for me to believe that my own father is dead. I am shocked because he was a very healthy and lively man, “Yohanna, who is currently working in a block company, lamented.
He continued, “So, on his arrival at home, I noticed that he was always moody and I made effort to know what was wrong, but he did not say anything to me. My father was a very quiet man. He hardly told us about his challenges.
He confirmed that his father actually died four days after returning from the police station.
“On that fateful day, June 5, 2022, after we returned from church, he was at home with us until 3:00pm when he took his bath and went out. He did not tell us where he was going, but we knew that he was not going too far because he wore a casual dress,” he recalled.
He confirmed that his father sold the particular plot of land to two different people, noting that at first he sold the land for N150,000 to a woman living in their neighbourhood in 2021 and later sold the same land for N230,000 to a man who urgently needed a piece of land to buy in 2022.
“When I heard that two different people paid for the land, I approached him to get clarity on the matter, but he did not say anything to me. It was on a Sunday, so my siblings and I did not go anywhere throughout the day. We were at home doing our domestic chores. To our greatest surprise, our father, who went out completely healthy, returned home as someone very sick,” he said.
He explained that when he arrived in the evening of that fateful day, he had little or no strength in him, stating that he advised his siblings that they should take him to his room to rest before finding a solution to his health challenge.
“After he had been in his room for some time, I went in to be sure that he was stable, but to my greatest surprise, I noticed that he had drunk a herbicide. I perceived the smell of the chemical from his mouth. Then I searched and found an empty container in his room.
“At that point, he could not speak to us because he was very weak and almost lifeless, so we decided to rush him to the Primary Health Care Centre in Kwandere, near Lafia town.
But on getting there, the health centre referred us to Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, where he was admitted and received treatment but later died,” he said.
He told our correspondent that his father was buried on the same day his corpse was brought to their family compound according to Christian rites, noting that there was no need to delay, especially because of the circumstances surrounding his death.
He explained that his late father was a community man, friendly and someone who worked for the peace and progress of society, adding that he detested all forms of crime.
He was also a great farmer who “ensured that we did not lack foodstuff at home. My father told us that he went into farming because his salary of N10,000 as a security man was not sufficient to fend for the family’s needs. He was a good father to all his children. We really miss him.
He continued, “He was my father. Even in death, he is still my father. I will not say that our relationship was 100 per cent (perfect) but he was a great inspiration to me.
“Even in the midst of lack and big challenges, he kept encouraging me not to give up. Well, I do not know what pushed him into taking his own life, but I can assure you that my father was a great man. He was a huge pillar in my life.”
He said their mother died in 2019 during childbirth, adding that she was giving birth to the seventh child of their family when she died.
His words: “Her death was very tragic for my father and the entire family because she really supported our family when she was alive. She had a petty business and she was also a great farmer. We really miss her, too.
“It has not been easy for us. My siblings have been crying since that day. We are still very young but we have become orphans in this difficult world.”
Also speaking to our correspondent, a younger brother to the deceased, Hussaini Anva-Makpa, 52, told our correspondent that his late brother on that fateful day he visited him in his house and asked him to borrow him (Anva) N2000, but didn’t know what he was going to use the money for.
According to him, his late brother was hale and healthy as at the time he came to his residence, adding that he was not under any pressure from the buyers of the land and, to the best of his knowledge, he didn’t mention any of such to him.
He added that when he returned from the police station, the first buyer of the land who arrested him came to their house with her husband and they discussed extensively with his late brother, and the outcome of the meeting was that his brother would get another land for her, but he unfortunately died a few days later.
He said his brother did not tell any member of their family about his worries.
“The only known challenge at that time was the land issue, and we did not imagine that he could take his own life because of it.
“We are still surprised till today. Accepting the reality that he killed himself is not easy for me. But his children and I have accepted our fate. He is dead now, though painful, but we have to move on with life,” he said.
Investigations by Daily Trust revealed that land fraud is rampant in Nasarawa State as a victim of land racketeering explained to our correspondent that a 100 by 50 piece of land he purchased from an agent at a price of N700,000 had been resold to another person for N1.5 million.
Also narrating his experience to our correspondent, Ismaila Muhammadu, 35 , said on January 20, 2021, he bought a 100 by 100 piece of land from an agent, Shuaibu Isah, for N2.5 million in the Akurba area of Lafia LGA of the state, but the agent resold it to another client, Yusuf Kadiri, for N3 million.
According to him, when he went to inspect the land, before he would commence work on it, he discovered that his beacon, on which he had written his name as well as his phone number, had been destroyed by the second buyer, Yusuf.
He said he went back to Isah, whom he bought the land from, to find out whether he was the one that destroyed his beacon, but he ignored him.
So, since he was not ready to listen to his complaint, he reported the case to the Nasarawa State Police Command and the suspect was arrested and detained for five days.
Ismaila, however, said he was able to get the sum of N2 million out of the N3 million he was swindled by the land racketeers, noting that the agent, before he was granted bail, wrote an undertaking to return the remaining balance of N1 million by the end of 2022.
When contacted on phone, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Nasarawa Police Command, DSP Ramhan Nansel, said the command was doing everything possible to tackle the menace of land fraud.
He said the command has arrested one prime suspect, Nasiru Soldier, and 10 others in Karu LGA of the state in connection with land racketeering.
The police image-maker explained that the arrest of the suspects was made due to a series of complaints from the residents of Karu LGA, noting that the command went into thorough investigation and the agents’ kingpin, Nasiru Soldier, and 10 others were arrested.
He said: “Sometime last year, the command received a series of reports on thugs reportedly mobilised by the prime suspect, Nasiru, intimidating and tormenting residents around Karu LGA, wielding weapons to seize their land illegally.”