lagos government

Some allotees who bought into the Lagos State Housing Scheme In The Ega-Igando area several years ago are now alleging that the Lagos State government robbed and cheated them of their money. JULIANA FRANCIS tells the story of the allottees

 

Ms Shade is a worker with the Lagos State Government. She knew that there would come a time when her body would no longer be able to face the gruelling work of 8:am to 4:pm every week to make an income for survival.

She also understands the reality; which is that lack of income means poor feeding and the likelihood of not being able to pay for accommodation.

These challenges are real in Nigerian society and it is the fear of most Nigerians as old beckons. Pensioners are not accepted from the harsh economic realities many face in Nigeria.

It was the fear and thoughts of these unavoidable realities of life that made Shade and several other civil servants and non-civil servants embrace the Lagos State Millenium  Housing Scheme.

According to her, the idea was that immediately she and others deposit at least 10 per cent of the actual money, they would become flat owners and would then complete payment after moving into the apartment.

It was a fantastic offer; she and other civil servants had immediately applied for a Housing Loan Under Public Service Office. They made the initial 10 per cent of the actual payment.

The foolproof plan did not scale through. Shade, full of anger and disappointment, alleged that the Lagos State Government would later allot the houses to politicians and other wealthy Nigerians. As if that was not bad enough, she alleged that the state government had also refused to refund their money.

The drama over the housing scheme started years ago;  Shade and others who reached out to The Eagle Online said they were among the first set of allottees to make deposits and given provisional allocations.

The festering injury sustained by these allottees was further exacerbated when on the 5th of June 2024, they read in some national dailies that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration had concluded plans to hand over 270 home Units to Ega allottees.

Ordinary, Shade and others should be part of those receiving keys to their homes, but they were not.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the 270 home units at Egan-Igando Mixed Housing Estate in Ikotun-Igando Local Council Development Area of the state, as part of measures at bridging the Housing deficit.

The commissioning of the completed housing project is coming after 21 years of commencement.

Shade opined that the Lagos State government was trying to defraud, stressing that she did not expect such behaviour from a rich state, which had often been a poster state that others usually copied from.

She explained that the government was asking them to bring the original receipt of the initial deposits paid for the apartments before they could get a refund.

She insisted that she and most of the other civil servants who took loans from the State government were not given original receipts.

Shade said: “It’s shocking that this is happening in Lagos State, under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu! Lagos State is a pilot State and other states copy from them. The truth is that we were robbed and cheated! It’s unbelievable. We were only given photocopy receipts!”

 

A Walk Down Memory Lane Of Becoming Flat Owners

Recollecting how it all began, Shade said that in 2006, the Lagos Building Investment Company Plc(LBIC) embarked on an aggressive advertisement, including sending out marketers with handbills, urging people to buy into the Lagos State Millenium Housing Scheme.

She said the houses were in three categories, each with its total sum and initial deposits. There is a 2-bedroom flat, a self-contained and a 3-bedroom flat. The 3bedroom went for N5m back then and allottees were expected to pay 10 percent of the money.

She said: “As civil servants, most of us couldn’t afford the houses. We applied for a Housing Loan with the Lagos State Government. The loan was paid directly into the purse of Lagos Building Investment Company, while we were given a photocopy receipt as proof of payment.

“To qualify for the scheme, you must pay 10 per cent on the house category you’re interested in. After that, we were given a provisional allocation.”

Excited by the thought that she would soon own a home, Shade told all her friends, colleagues, and family members, and many of them quickly keyed into the scheme.

She further narrated: “As of 2007, I went to the site to personally investigate the property and discovered that it was 70 per cent completed. We were promised that within a year, it would be completed, and we could move in.

“The General Manager of LBSC Bafunke Ajose Adeogun, Credit and Marketing addressed us. She told us that the houses would be ready within one year and that allottees could then move in. After two years, we noticed there was no progress on the project. What we kept hearing was very soon! very soon!

“Five years into the scheme, we were all asked to come for document verification. When we got there, they said we should sign and agree to an increment in the prices of the flats.

“The flat for N5m became N7m and the initial deposit jumped from 10 per cent to 30 per cent. It was shocking, but we’ve already started this scheme, and going back will be difficult. We spoke to ourselves and signed the agreement.

“It was right from that moment we smelt fraud, but we felt we’ve been on it for too long. It was especially a trying situation for those of us who are civil servants. However, many of us still felt that we could not be defrauded in a project pioneered by Lagos State Government.”

The allottees later heard that there was an internal crisis within the agencies managing the scheme, which affected the project.

“It was during Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration that we heard that there was an outright sale of the flats to other people, especially politicians, while those of us who were the initial depositors were pushed aside. It was painful!

“The scheme was then moved from the LBSC agency to the Rent-To-Own Housing Scheme, an agency under the Ministry of Housing. It was from Rent to Own we heard that the flats had all been allocated and that those of us who paid earlier were not among the beneficiaries.”

When Shade and others discovered that they had lost out despite following all the rules and even being among the first depositors, they asked for a refund of their money.

They were advised to write officially to the relevant agency for a refund. In the middle of that, Rent To Owe moved the scheme to the Ministry of Housing.

“The only person I know that had collected his initial deposit of N350,000 in the year 2017 succeeded because he had a ‘connection, ’ an insider.  We were asked to bring our documents and original receipts of payment of initial deposits, but those of us who are civil servants do not have original receipts. We were only given a photocopy as proof of payment,” said Shade.

She continued: “We took loans and the agency in charge of the loan paid directly into the purse of LBSC. LBSC gave us photocopy receipts with a promise that the original would be given to us on completion of our payment.”

According to her, since the written letter asking for a refund, it has been one issue after another from the agency.  This forced Shade and other aggrieved allottees facing similar challenges to create a WhatsApp Group, where they continue to synergise on how best to make the government refund their money.

 

Visiting Egan-Igando Mixed Housing Estate In Ikotun-Igando

 

On the 17th of June 2024, our reporter visited the site, located along the Egan-Agric route.

The estate has three entry points from the Egan-Agric route axis. The security guard refused to allow the reporter to move around the estate and also did not allow her to take pictures.

Our reporter noticed that for the recent commissioning by the governor, a new coat of paint was splashed on the walls of the fence and some buildings had new looks, but many had old-looking paint.  Some of the buildings are still under construction.

When the reporter told the security guard that some people claimed that the houses were used to defraud them, he responded: “ It cannot be true. This place has just been commissioned by Sanwo-Olu and all the houses taken. There’s no vacancy anymore. The owners can now sell outright if they want or rent it out.”

 

I Requested Refund After Work Stopped At The Site -Philips

 

Another allottee, who is pained by the action of the Lagos State government is Mr Obadimeji Gbolahan Philips. However, unlike Shade, Philips is not a civil servant.

His words: “Remember that this was supposed to be a scheme. It was meant to be an instalment payment method and not an outright purchase which Lagos State has turned it into. Houses are now given to people with cash.

“The houses were supposed to be our first houses but it is now being sold to people who have gotten two, three or many houses who can bring out cash for outright purchases. How do you expect a non-corrupt civil servant to cough out ₦12M cash?

“What we are fighting for today, is not just for me as a person, but there are hundreds of us whose voices could not be heard due to situations we found ourselves in; many are civil servants who due to victimisation could not talk openly.

“Some have entered into serious debt because of this scheme, they borrowed money to make a down payment hoping to get the house but ended up paying interest through their noses and still no house to show for it. Some have resigned to fate.

“Some have changed phone numbers and could not be reached anymore. Some have died in the process of over 16 years and 20 years. The narratives I gave are the experiences of many of us during my interactions with them.

“Imagine if we could be treated like this when we are alive, what will happen when we are no more, can our children claim what we could not claim during our lifetimes? Lagos State has robbed Peter to pay Paul!

“I was 39 years old when I subscribed to the scheme, and I am 55 years old now. Many who were single then are not only married now but with children who have completed high school.

“I have since subscribed to the federal government, Federal Mortgage Bank National Housing Fund (FMBN, NHF) and within six months of making the initial deposit not 10%, a house was given to me and I was even interviewed by FMBN on the scheme.”

Philips recalled that he heard about the Egan/Igando Housing Scheme Under The Lagos State Millennium Housing Scheme, on the 5th of September 2008, had obtained a form, ₦2,500 cash with receipt No. 0000994 to subscribe to the housing scheme of 2bedrooms flat type C under the Lagos Building Investment Company Limited. He was issued a form with the number 3970.

He said: “The cost of the house then was ₦3,500,000. We were told that it was a scheme which means that it is a mortgage type of house for which payment could be made in instalments over 10 years.

“On the 11th of September 2008, I deposited ₦400,000.00 with GTB backdraft with other necessary documents requested by them and a receipt No 0003311 was issued. This qualified me for the house as we were told that a 10 per cent down payment must be made.  After that, I decided to make ₦30,000 monthly deposit which I made on the 7th of October /2008 and another on the 11th of November 2008.

“On my visit to the site of the building, I discovered that work had stopped and nothing was happening. I went to their office, I was told that the bank meltdown had affected the project. I stopped making further payments.

“On the 16th of October, 2008, I was issued a provisional letter of allocation of type C 2 bedrooms. At that time, the cost has been increased. I saw that nothing was going on concerning the project. I approached the office, verbally requested a refund and asked how I would go about it which was what many subscribers had started clamouring for. I was told to hold on.”

Philips said that sometime in 2017, he was called just like others and they all met at the Ministry of Housing, Alausa, Ikeja.

There he reiterated his demand for a refund of his deposit but was prevailed upon that he and others would all be given their houses.

“I was told to write another letter of application for a type C unit at the Egan Igando Housing Scheme which I did using my handwriting and it was acknowledged on 14th of December 2017 by the office of the Honourable Commissioner of Housing,” said Philips.

He further recalled that on the 4th of April 2018,  almost nine years after the provisional letter of allocation was given, he received an Offer Letter at Egan Housing Estate, stating the Type C Block 17 Flat 6. However, he discovered that the project had been withdrawn from the Lagos State Millennium Housing Scheme and handed over to the Lagos State Ministry Of Housing.

He recounted: “I asked about the development on the site and I visited the site and it was just as it was in 2008. I decided to hold back and not make any payments again. Later around 2021, I was informed that they had started work at the site and when I went to the ministry to continue with the payment deposits, I was told that it had been withdrawn from me and that I no longer qualified for it. I was informed that the house per unit is now ₦12M or thereabouts.  This is after holding my fund for 13 good years when the exchange rate was ₦156 to  $1.

 

“On the 2nd of November 2021, I wrote to request a refund of my deposit with my bank details and submitted the letter to the office of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Housing on the 3rd of November, 2021 and it was acknowledged. I made several visits to the ministry but my money was never returned to me.

“On the 4th of December 2023, I was called along with several others some who have made deposits of N3.5M and still houses were not given and deposits not returned. In the meeting we had, we were told that our money would be returned to us but five months after, nothing was communicated with me and others because I formed a WhatsApp group with some of the people I met at the ministry that day and none had been paid and non had received any communication whatsoever.

 

“On the 13th of May 2024, I wrote another letter of request for my refund and I also met some other subscribers even a man who had made full payment of the house then, ₦3.5M but never given.”

 

To be continued.

 

Note: The name of the civil servant used in this publication is not real to protect him/her from being targeted in their places of work by the Lagos State Government, which is their primary employer.

BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis

Caring is Sharing ... Think It's Cool? Please Share to Any Icon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *