Of Datkem Enterprises, corporate lies and due process -By Yemi Festus Oke
IF the ongoing drama over Datkem Plaza, a structure partially demolished in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, recently, proves anything, it is the fact that many members of Nigeria’s privileged, political class like to mouth such phrases as “rule of law” and “due process” only when it suits their whims and caprices. They love the application of these concepts when they apply to others, not to themselves. Such people really have no care for the rule of law; all they are after is personal interest. This perfectly explains why, in the aftermath of the expose on the non-existent company whose name was used by the owners of Datkem Plaza to apply for building approval in Ogun State, a certificate bearing the name “Datkem Enterprises” was hurriedly churned out by former Governor Gbenga Daniel to prove that the company is indeed real. That may deceive unsuspecting members of the public, but not anyone familiar with the basic rules guiding businesses and their registration. Pray, just how do you se “Datkem Enterprises” to prove that “Datkem Enterrpises Ltd” does exist? What kind of childish gimmick is that? How does a person of such an exalted status insult public sensibilities in this manner?
For those who care to know, Datkem Enterprises Ltd was the entity used to obtain approval for the building called Datkem Plaza. An enterprise, which is a mare business name, cannot own such a building. Such a building can only be owned by a corporate entity. It seems that from the very beginning, the owners of Datkem Plaza deliberately wanted to manipulate the system. For one, since there is no Datkem Enterprises Ltd, the name presented to obtain building approval from the Ogun State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, there is no address that can be traced if the building runs into any problem. It is, as such, an entity that only exists in a world that we do not know, cannot see, and cannot touch. Why does it then want to do business with real people?
The fact, till this moment, is that Datkem Enterprises Ltd was never registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); what was registered is Datkem Enterprises. This is highly disingenuous, to say the least. Whereas Datkem Enterprises Ltd would be required to have director(s) and shareholder(s), Datkem Enterprise can only be required to have a sole proprietor or partners (proprietors). A company limited by shares can sue and be sued, and own properties and other assets in its corporate name. It is a taxable legal person and pays its taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS) in its corporate name under the Companies Income Tax Act. It requires a certificate of incorporation and other documents such as Memorandum and Articles of Association upon registration with the CAC; has a maximum of 50 shareholders, and is required to file returns at the CAC and hold annual general meetings. Datkem Enterprises, being not a limited liability company, would not be required to meet these requirements, among many others. Unlike Datkem Enterprises Ltd, Datkem Enterprises can never be converted to a public limited company. One can go on and on, but it is inconceivable that a former governor and serving senator is ignorant of the differences between an enterprise and a limited liability company and even if he was, he had distinguished legal company around him that would have helped him. In the very remote circumstance that he failed to seek legal advice, ignorance of the law would not help him.
It is striking that when requesting for approval, the distinguished senator presented a fake, unregistered company, namely Datkem Enterprises Ltd. That looks like a deliberate attempt to cheat and deceive the general public. It can therefore be no surprise that what has been built as Datkem Plaza is not what he got approval for. As probably everyone knows, if you get government approval for a three bedroom flat but build a five-bedroom flat, you have violated the law. Somebody who has integrity should not have done that. Besides, is it any wonder that the owners of Datkem Plaza ignored the many contravention notices issued to them since 2022? Even after a stop-work notice was issued, why was work ongoing on the site at night, with deliberate intent to finish the project and make it difficult for the government to demolish without public outcry? By carrying on construction work on the site at night with intent to beat the stop-work notice and appeal to public sentiments if the government takes action against the completed building, the owners of Datkem Plaza played a dirty game. They must not be allowed to get away with it.
They lied, covering up with that lie with many more lies. Just how can somebody of such exalted status be posting a certificate for an enterprise when he applied for approval in the name of a limited liability company? Besides, his supporters should tell him to produce the approval given to him to produce the structure on ground in Ijebu Ode. If he cannot, they should keep quiet. Why use a fake name to process the application for building approval? The ordinary citizen who does this would be punished. Why shouldn’t a big politician who does same? He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Rule of law and due process should apply to all, not only the underprivileged.
Oke wrote this through [email protected]