CHIKA OKEKE in this piece, examines the escalating disasters and the need for the federal government to actively collaborate with regulatory bodies in addressing the pitfalls in the real estate sector
Given the multiple defects noticed in her apartment at House No C22, G4 street CITEC estate, Mbora Abuja, late Mrs Halima Ugomma Kadiri quit her job and decided to supervise the construction of her husband’s new house at No 13, A7 street, CITEC estate Mbora, Abuja.
The mother of two children aged three and five continued with the supervision and payment of workers daily but on 25th January 2018, she visited the building site and never returned home.
The husband, Mr Abdulkerim Kadiri who is a civil servant dialed her number several times, it rang but nobody picked the call.
On getting to the site, he saw his Toyota Prado jeep which the wife drove that morning, neatly parked in front of the house but the late wife was still not found within the premises.
Mr Kadiri however narrated his ordeal to the chief security officer of CITEC estate who joined in the search alongside another security man in the estate but could not trace her.
That same night, Kadiri reported the case of his missing wife to Life camp police station.
The next day being Friday, 26th January, 2018, a police officer was attached to Kadiri to conduct intensive search at the site and the remains of late Mrs Halima Ugomma Kadiri was found locked up in one of the toilets upstairs.
Her legs and hands were tied while her killers used the POP sponge to tie her mouth and nose, her wedding ring and gold wrist watch was on her hand even as the big gold chain necklace she wore to the site was missing on her neck, according to the husband, Mr Kadiri.
Kadiri confided in LEADERSHIP Weekend that he recovered about N150, 000 from the passenger seat of his Toyota Prado jeep, which he believed was the remaining money used for the payment of workers at the site.
With this development, a report was compiled and forwarded to Inspector General of Police Special Technical Squad (IGP- STS), headed by one DCP Kolo.
The deceased husband noted that he had informed his mother-in- law who lived in the South that his wife was kidnapped so that they could control her, though the sister-in-law was aware that his wife was murdered.
Kadiri lamented that two days after the incident that the suspects called his mother-in-law to demand for ransom to be paid into a Unity Bank PLC account number: 0021920860, with the name Adah Ochowechi, to enable them release the daughter.
He said though the suspect requested for N2 million that the mother-in-law pleaded with them to collect the sum of N200, 000, of which they accepted and the money was paid into the account.
Kadiri pointed out that subsequent information from the IGP- STS revealed the subject suspect who claimed to be the owner of the account is a serving police officer while the owner of the account is one Ada Ochowechi, who the suspect identified as a junior police officer that worked with him some years back while serving at the Katsina police command.
The case which is presently before the Bwari High court was adjourned till 30th April for further hearing.
Another worrisome development that raised eyebrow on the need to regulate the real estate sector is the recent flooding that occurred in Lugbe.
Lydia Okafor (not real name) informed LEADERSHIP Weekend that about 4am on 1st March, 2019 that heavy downpour flooded the entire compound located at House 8, 1 G road, phase one, Federal Housing Estate Lugbe, Abuja.
Okafor hinted that the rain was so severe that it pulled down the fence of the house which blocked the shallow drainage inside the compound adding that the drainage of the house behind her compound was almost blocked before the rain and till date.
She stated that her electronics comprising of generator, fridge, home theatre, water dispenser, stabiliser, books and clothes were submerged in the flooding, leading to loss of huge sums of money.
Okafor said that the estate agency managing the house, Jide Taiwo & Co have yet to clear the rubbles and repair the borehole destroyed by the flooding, with an excuse that the landlord lives abroad and he has not responded to mails sent to him.
She said though other tenants recorded losses during the disaster, she was worst hit by the unfortunate incident, adding that she has so far spent over N150, 000 to keep the house habitable since she moved into the 1 bedroom apartment last year November.
Kadiri’s unfortunate death and Okafor’s quagmire is synonymous with over 1000 Nigerians that have lost their lives and valuables due to poorly constructed buildings and absence or shallow drainage systems that led to wholesome flooding.
Aside flooding, the construction and building sub-sectors are facing myriad of problems such as severe dearth of skilled manpower, a situation that increased the visibility of structural defects across the country.
This is basically why over 90 percent of buildings in Abuja are substandard since the city was developed by mostly unskilled artisans and contractors.
Regrettably, the tenants continues to bear the brunt of such structural defects as the landlords neither lived in the house nor were bothered about the plight of tenants aside collecting the annual tenancy fee.
To this end, stakeholders in the sector have suggested the need to regulate and restructure the realty sector so as to improve productivity and curtail the activities of shylock estate developers and agents.
A board member of Chicago Association of Realtors Global Council-USA, Mr Efty Abdulfatai Garba said there was need to regulate and restructure Nigeria’s real estate industry.
He noted that if there are genuine laws guiding the operation of various housing organisations, that Nigerians seeking for estate development jobs would first obtain certification before venturing into the business.
Aside estate development jobs, Garba stated that the same measure should be applied to mortgage brokers, appraisers, inspectors and all allied industry partners.
He commended the efforts of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and urged them not to relent in sanitising the industry.
According to him, “If we must make a difference, we must be bold and courageous to make Nigerian leaders see the importance of real estate to their political future”.
Lending his voice, the president/chairman of council, Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN), QS Mohammed Baba Adamu emphasised the need to enlighten residents at the grassroots on the use of local building materials to enhance the prospect for affordable housing in Nigeria.
He said that to ensure quality delivery of houses devoid of substandard environment and eliminate incidences of building collapse and loss of lives, training and education of professionals and artisans are paramount.
Adamu noted that housing cooperatives remained the surest body to be used in promoting affordable housing saying that the association would leverage on the visibility of national housing cooperatives policy to enlighten Nigerians on the need to utilise the services of cooperatives for home ownership.
Contributing, the convener of Abuja International Housing Show, Barr Festus Adebayo pleaded with stakeholders to assist in improving the operating environment noting that such measures would eradicate quacks and allow genuine developers to boost their business.
He said, “If we are not careful, such desire to curb the excesses of deviant developers will lead to persecution and high compliance costs that will affect affordability”.
In his submission, a former president of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Steve Onu, regretted that government is also involved in swindling Nigerians through bogus housing programmes.
He recalled that in 1996 when the federal ministry of housing under Jakunde/Adisa floated a housing programme where Nigerians were made to deposit a minimum of N40,000 which was later increased to N165,000.
Onu asserted that up till date that none of the depositors in Imo State recovered their money, land nor house adding that the monies were paid through Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
Onu added, “Will any responsible government treat its citizens this way? Who is fooling who? Yet a minister will have the courage to boast that a nation like Nigeria built 2540 units last year while in 2014 a country like Columbia built 100, 000 housing units for those in need.”
The president of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Rev Ugochukwu Chime said that a typical Nigerian approach to issues would be to intentionally allow a crack on the road to develop into a crater that would cause pain to road users.
Chime said that the approach would automatically lead to closure of the road, thereafter government would use the meager public funds to award inflated contract to their friends and cronies.
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