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March 1, 2021

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A former member of the House of Representatives, Ned Nwoko, has threatened to sue PREMIUM TIMES over an investigative story on his contoversial acquisition of 90 hectares of land for a private university in his hometown, Udumuje-Ugboko in Delta State.

The two-part story published last December exposed how Mr Nwoko, a member of the royal family in the town, dislodged poor farmers from the land.

It also revealed how he used security agents to intimidate members of the community who challenged his acquisition of the land from 2015.

The development later led to violence, kingship tussle and rights violations in the town, with some members of the community, led by his kins from the royal family, kicking against his demand for 90 hectares of land.

While lawsuits were pending over the land, Mr Nwoko began building the proposed STARS University on it.

On Thursday, he said the university had reached 95 percent completion and that it has Olympic standards sports facilities.

However, in a series of text messages he sent to our reporter on Monday, Mr Nwoko denied acquiring the 90 hectares for the university,.

He threatened to sue this newspaper and the reporter if it fails to withdraw some of the claims in the story.

“I didn’t acquire 90 hectares for university. It was given for a golf course. Pls see the Obi’s letter.

“All structures for the university are built in my old land. The land was never grabbed as you put it. It was properly allocated with a c of o.

“You must correct this misinformation. It is in bad faith. Otherwise I will seek appropriate redress against you and Premium Times,” he said in one of the messages he sent to our reporter.

Inconsistencies

Mr Nwoko’s current stance is inconsistent with his previous response. He had claimed the land was approved for the university last year.

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In documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, which he later presented to the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), he stated that STARS University was the owner of the land.

The university was also named as the owner of another 58 hectares, which is a combination of the 33 hectares allocated for commercial farming in 2000 and other portions bought from members of Onicha-Ugbo in another Right of Occupancy.

Mr Nwoko insisted the university is at its permanent site in another location, but he did not substantiate the claim.

He kept mum when our reporter asked if he submitted the land documents to the NUC in the application for a licence for the university.

“The fact that there are no structures in the 90 hectares is a malicious misinformation.

I take it that this matter will be resolved by the courts,” Mr Nwoko wrote in another mesage.

You can read the first part of the story here and the second part here

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