Just imagine you left home for work about 6am today. Then around noon, you receive a distress call from the nanny who is taking care of your two children; she is in a panic and you can hardly understand what she is saying. After you succeed in calming her down, she tells you some fierce-looking, armed, uniformed policemen and some other persons not in uniform have come to your home to force her and the children out and barricaded the doors and gate to the house with iron bars. Worse still, it is raining and they cannot even seek comfort with the next door neighbours because the same fate seems to have befallen them.
This scenario has been playing out in two major residential estates in Lekki in the last two weeks. The owners of houses in these estates bought their property up to 20 years ago.
The story is that Goshen and Victory Park Estates were being possessed by AMCON Receiver/Manager to pay for debt owed by the developer, who died three weeks ago!
Goshen Beach Estate and Victory Estate are gated residential estates located in the Elegushi and Osapa, near Jakande areas of Lekki respectively. The estates were developed by Grant Properties Limited & Knight Rook owned by Chief Olajide Awosedo who died three weeks ago and is said to be owing AMCON the sum of N8 billion or with compounded interest, N23 billion, depending on who you are talking with.
The Receiver/ Manager who is obviously on commission have been very enthusiastic with their job of making the house owners and tenants homeless, not minding the fact that these families were not party to whatever suit AMCON had against the developer who built and sold property to families with accompanying documents certified to be genuine. Obviously the developer had facilities with some, using the estates land or infrastructure as collateral which he had not paid. The Receiver/Manager has now come in with droves of Mobile Policemen & OPC to take possession.
All assets residual to or associated with the late developer are now said to be under threat as he left a catalogue of unsettled loans on all projects.
Should this mean genuine house owners, some of who paid up to N50 million 20 years ago, would now be forced out without serious efforts to resolve the issue? Is a government agency empowered to run roughshod over law-abiding citizens who paid their hard-earned money to provide a roof over the heads of their families and other dependants? Is it not insensitive to just go about sealing up people’s homes due to no fault of theirs? Why did the banks not check on the validity of the collaterals provided by their customer?
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) is a body established by an Act of the National Assembly of Nigeria in July 2010 with an intended 10-year lifespan. The body acted as the buyer of banks for the Nigerian Government by acquiring the non-performing loans (NPL) of banks. It is the non-performing loans of this developer that AMCON is now collecting on and the owners of Goshen and Victory estates homes are only third parties or may not even been parties at all if the banks and AMCON performed their duties at the appropriate time.
AMCON has obviously panicked now that the man has passed on, without separating the individual from the company they did business with.
Some of the owners have appealed to AMCON to follow due process and work towards a mutual settlement but it looks like their plea has fallen on deaf ears.
The Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA), issued a press release signed by its president, Olorogun James Emadoye, calling on AMCON to recognize the property titles and stop inflicting heartache and hardship on home & land owners in Victory Park, Goshen Beach Estates and other developments in Lekki who purchased their properties without any encumbrance known to law.
LERSA, which is the umbrella body of Residents Associations of over 77 gated Estates from 1004 Estate area down to Epe, was basically adding its voice to the clamours of Residents and Property Owners in Lekki.
LERSA condemned what it called “the inhuman treatment of Homeowners who are being thrown out of their homes in Victory Park Estate and Goshen Beach Estate and other Estates in Lekki by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) with the use of heavily armed policemen and a group of fiercely looking unidentified armed men. Several families have been forced out of their homes with mothers and children left out in the heavy down pour of rain with little or no notice at mid-day when most Residents were out for work”.
The association explained the fact that residents and property owners in the affected Estates bought into gated Estate Schemes, like most estate development Schemes in the Lekki axis of Lagos State.
“These properties are widely publicized, and in the case of GOSHEN Beach Estate, the sale was a joint venture between the developer and Lagos State Development & Property Corporation thus giving comfort and confidence to would be subscribers/buyers that they are credible and the titles are free from any encumbrance”, it said, saying it was appalling and devastating to buy into a State Government sanctioned transaction only to have homes and life sustaining facilities like sewage treatment, borehole and recreation area forcibly sealed up almost twenty years after purchase.
“In view of the current circumstances of some of our Estates with AMCON, it is the opinion of LERSA that the right and equitable thing for AMCON, which is a Government Agency to do, is to go after the assets of Developers who are the loan defaulters and not prey on soft targets that are innocent citizens, who are bona fide purchasers for value, without notice of any encumbrances known to law. The enabling law establishing AMCON stipulates that AMCON Receiver Managers shall take over receivership of properties of judgement debtors subject to existing encumbrances. Residents and Property Owners of Victory Park Estate and Goshen Beach Estate who bought their lands and built their homes in the Estates, have suddenly become soft targets of AMCON for the recovery of bad debts”.
The association noted that its members who are the owners of their property, duly paid for by them and have no relationship whatsoever with AMCON. Any bankers who accept common estate facilities such as waterworks, road network, general service infrastructure and so on as collateral for loan will need to question his/her qualifications as a banker.
Several questions need answers here.
Why would AMCON be appointing a receiver/manager for property which have been bought and paid for by individual Nigeria citizens rather than go after the judgement debtor?
Is it not strange that AMCON is going after innocent citizens as soft targets after the death of the developer who is their banks’ customer?
Were the property in the estates not acquired and paid for fully without any caveat and or encumbrances? Why now using force with the help of unidentified armed men to invade, intimidate and force out law abiding citizens from their homes?
Shouldn’t a government agency be strongly condemned for such acts which should not be allowed to thrive in our democracy?
The association called on President Mohammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, AMCON Chairman Muiz Banire Managing Lawan Kuru to intervene in the matter of Victory Park Estate, Goshen Estate and any other Estates in Lekki to ensure that innocent Nigerians are not deprived of their homes and properties.
Indeed, this harassment of law-abiding Nigerians and their families by AMCON and other government agencies should be condemned. The trauma on the children who were forcefully evicted from their parents’ bona fide houses can only be imagined – the earlier this bad behavior by government agencies are curtailed, the better too!
Image credit: amcon.com.ng; property places
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.