Arena Market Shopping Project: ARCON Disowns Fake Architect James Onyemenam Over Alleged Forgery

A project development firm, Woobs Resources Ltd, has petitioned the Nigerian Police over the alleged forgery of its records and Architectural drawings of the Army Arena Market project to obtain an architectural practicing license, looting and obtaining money by false pretense by one James Onyemenam, owner of a purported architectural firm, Bridgeways Global Projects Ltd.

Woobs Resources Ltd is the Concessioner to the Nigerian Army Arena Shopping Complex, Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos.

In a petition dated April 28, 2023, sighted by our reporter, addressed to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, counsel to Woobs Resources Ltd, Victor Ukutt Esq, disclosed that in 2005, his client approached the Nigerian Army to rebuild its Mammy Market at Ikeja Military Cantonment into an ultra-modern shopping complex under a Private Partnership Participation (PPP) arrangement.

The proposal, Ukutt said, was approved in 2006 and construction works started in January, 2007 and the project completed and commissioned in 2009.

Ukutt also informed the DIG that the architectural designs, constructions and supervision of the Arena Market started in 2006 by Mr James Onyemenam and Bridgeways Global Projects Ltd, and the project was completed and commissioned in 2009 by the Nigerian Army.

However, the alleged fake architect claimed that he graduated at the first generation Nigerian University ( UNN) at the age of 26 and later at 46 got his exemption certificate from the NYSC .

But when Woobs Resources noticed “certain fraudulent and unprofessional conduct which was unbecoming of a licensed architect” it wrote a letter to the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) to affirm the status of Mr.James Onyemenam as a licensed architect in a letter dated 30th November, 2011.

In the said letter, Woobs had demanded the verification and confirmation of Mr.James Onyemenam as a licensed architect pursuant to the Architect Registration Act, LFN 2004, and verification/confirmation of Bridgeways Global Projects Limited as a registered/licensed firm of architect.

However, in a reply letter dated December 5, 2011, signed by one Arc. Sale M. Yunusa, the ARCON vehemently stated that “Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam is not registered and licensed to practice architecture in Nigeria; Bridgeways Global Projects Limited is also not a registered architectural firm with the Council”. This shocking revelation and others lead to the dismissal of Mr James Onyemenam from the services of Woobs Resources Ltd in 2011.

Mr Victor Ukutt explained that Woobs Resources was shocked when the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria in a subsequent development wrote to the company concerning the official drawings of the Arena Market requesting for authentication of the documents. According to ARCON, Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam had tendered the architectural drawings of the Army Arena Market Project and used same to apply for a license to be licensed as an architect by the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria. James Onyemenam had claimed that the Arena Market project started in 2014 and was completed in 2016 and was carried out by Messer Ben-Eboh of Ben-Eboh & Associates of 12/14 Broad Street, Lagos State where he worked under them for the said Arena Market Project.

In a more recent investigation, Mr George Chukwu, Commissioner of Police (SEB)
Force Criminal Investigation Department Abuja, on May 30, 2023, wrote a letter to ARCON titled “RE: Investigation Activities; RE: Mr James Onyemenam; RE: License No. GO519”.

On June 9, ARCON replied to the letter from the police marked “Ref. No, 3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/SEB/T.6/Vol.15/542, and categorically held that Mr James Onyemenam’s architectural license was fake.

“Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam is not registered and licensed to practice architecture in Nigeria in consonance with the Architects (Registration, Etc) Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“The Council did not issue any license to practice in Nigeria to Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam and the license No. G0519 is not known to the Council in any of its categories of registration.

“The person under reference was not issued/granted license to practice in Nigeria” ARCON told the police.

ARCON hinted further that architects are registered under different categories as Full registration beginning with the letter F/.

The Council explained that “Fully registered architects are those who can practice as principals or consultants to clients and can submit building designs, plans etc,

Arc. Umar Mumai Registrar, ARCON, clarified that: Fully registered architects can be promoted beyond the level of senior architects if in paid employment in the public or private sector and are entitled to use the appellation “Arc“.

On the other hand, he said Provisionally Stage registered architects are holders of the approved qualifications BSc/M Sc. Architecture or equivalents and are entitled to use the title architect but can only practice under the supervision of a fully registered architect and shall not act as a principal or consultant in any private organization.

“These persons may be fully registered after passing the Architects Professional Competence Examinations (APCE) and fulfilling other conditions for registration. This category of registration is denoted with the letter Pll/…

“Provisional stage 1 registration category is for holders of the BSc. Architecture degree of its equivalents who are unable to proceed for the approved professional qualification. This class of registration is denoted by the letter P1/..” the ARCON explained.

Explaining to the Police, Ukutt said it was one Col. Kingsley Umoh, who was in charge of the Ikeja Military Cantonment Mammy Market at that point that recommended Mr, James Onyemenam to Woobs Resources Ltd, whom had represented to him to be a qualified and a licensed architect and whom he was sure could do a good job to meet the standards and expectations of the Nigerian Army.

Following a meeting with his client, Onyemenam in a bid to convince Woobs Resources Ltd that he is a licensed architect by the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria and running an architectural firm, -Bridgeways Global Projects Ltd, took Woobs and showed them some projects purported to have been designed and carried out by Bridgeways Global Projects Ltd at Lekki, Lagos State.

“As a result of the representation by Mr, James Uchechukwu Onyemenam that he is a licensed architect by the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria, Woobs Resources Ltd engaged him as the architect to design and supervise the construction of the Arena Market in 2006” Ukutt said.

Ukutt stated that upon the engagement of Onyemenam and his architectural firm – Bridgeways Global Projects Ltd, construction works started in January, 2007. Sequel to the representation of Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam as a licensed architect with practice No. G0519 and on which capacity he was engaged, he charged professional fees using his Architectural Firm – Bridgeways Global Projects Limited for the architectural designs and supervision works in accordance with the scale of fees approved by the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria for himself and his Architectural Firm”.in a total sum of Seventy Nine Million Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand Nine Hundred and Nine Naira Nine kobo (N79, 999, 999.09) which he was paid a total sum of Fifty Eight Million Five Hundred and Forty Three Thousand Nine Hundred and Forty Six Naira Eighty kobo (N58, 543, 946.80).

Mr Victor Ukutt said that the purported 2014 design and construction of the Arena Market project and the documents of construction presented by Mr. James Uchechukwu Onyemenam to the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria for his license as an architect are mere simulated forgery and misrepresentation of Arena Market Project records/documents using Woobs Resources Ltd as a subterfuge to the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria as the Arena Market project was designed in 2006, built and completed in 2009. These forgeries have become one too many and must be investigated by the police  Mr Ukutt said .