Residents of a mass housing estate in Abuja, under the aegis of Saraha Proform Estate Residents Association, have petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over the planned demolition of their N160 billion estate by authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In the petition signed by Oluwasegun Otta Ojo and Maureen Ibikwe, the chairman and secretary of the Association respectively and dated January 4, 2013, the residents said they bought property at the estate between 2009 and 2012 through one Alhaji Kabiru, the Chairman/CEO of Saraha Homes Limited and had long completed payment and taken possession of their houses without hindrance from anybody until recently.
"It would be important to inform you sir that at the commencement of our transactions with Saraha Homes Limited, we demanded to see the original allocation paper of the said plot. We were shown a copy of letter of offer issued in the name of Proform (West Africa) Limited.
"We were also made to understand that there was a partnership agreement between the said Proform (West Africa) Limited and Saraha Homes Limited. A copy of the said partnership agreement was also shown to us by the Chairman/CEO of Saraha Homes Limited. We were also shown a copy of a letter of authority investing power on the Chairman/CEO of Saraha Homes Limited to manage and superintend the estate," the letter reads in part.
The residents said searches conducted at the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) confirmed that the land was allocated in the name of Proform (West Africa) Limited and they were subsequently issued offer letters for their respective buildings by Saraha Homes Limited to take possession of their various buildings.
They said they were, however, surprised when a group in the name of Winning Clause Limited came to paste quit notices on their buildings in November 2012 – claiming ownership of the said plot.
"Worried by the strange development, we approached the Winning Clause Limited through Mr. P. I. N. Ikwueto (SAN), who claimed to be the chairman of the company in his office to find out why the notices were pasted on our buildings. We were then told that the allocation to Proform (West Africa) Limited had been revoked and re-allocated to Winning Clause Limited in November 2012.
"On December 3, 2012, some persons who claimed to be men from the Department of Development Control of FCDA came with bulldozers to demolish our buildings in the estate.
"According to the Winning Clause Group, the men came at its behest. But in keeping faith with observing law and order, we reached out to the chairman of Winning Clause Limited, Mr. P.I.N. Ikwueto (SAN), who said to us that the only thing that could save our houses from being demolished is if every house owner pays N15 million to Winning Clause Limited via him."
The petitioners also informed the President that the same Winning Clause Limited had initiated an action against Proform (West Africa) in a court of law over the said Plot 67, Kafe District, Abuja and in spite of the subsisting suit in court, which has not yet been determined, the Winning Clause Limited through its agents had sworn never to allow them have peace and "they have consistently sent thugs to the estate to harass and intimidate us. We are no longer sure of our safety anymore. Our lives are in danger."
According to them, through an earlier petition to the Director of mass housing department of FCDA, Jibril Gambo Umar, it had been confirmed that Winning Clause Limited never applied for mass housing land through the Department of Mass Housing of FCDA just as no land was allocated to it through the department as there were no records to that effect.
In the petition which was also sent to the Minister of the FCT, the National Assembly, the Chief of Army Staff, Inspector General of Police and others, the residents also complained that on the morning of Thursday, January 31, 2013, they woke up to discover that about 60 armed soldiers with armed policemen numbering about 50, dressed in bulletproof vests had besieged the estate, cordoned all the entrances to the estate and made sure nobody left or came into the estate.
"The armed men threatened to shoot anybody who disobeyed them. We were later informed that the fierce-looking armed security men were invited to the estate by the management of Winning Clause Limited and some senior officials of the Development Control Department with the evil intention of pulling down over 200 already completed duplexes.
"They, however, succeeded in demolishing three in order to force us to succumb to the huge financial demands of some questionable characters."
The sight of these armed men inflicted great trauma on the residents, which culminated in people fainting and some had instant cardiac arrest. We have cases of home owners suffering from stroke because of the trauma the Winning Clause Limited has inflicted on us and the uncertainty of what may befall our houses.”
They therefore implored the President to come to their rescue by directing the necessary authorities of the FCDA, especially the Minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed, to resolve the matter in their favour in order to save them from the trauma they were undergoing in the hands of Winning Clause Limited and the Development Control Department.