EFCC urged to wade into Abuja mass housing imbroglio
Tension remains high between about 300 house owners, under the platform of Winning Clause Estate Residents Association at Plot 67 Kafe District, Gwarinpa Extension, Abuja and a developer, Chief Oby (Obiageli) Okwubanago, over ownership of the land housing the sprawling estate.
After nearly five years of topsy-turvy battle, the aggrieved residents have requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the alleged collection of over N2 billion from them under false pretence.
In a petition addressed to the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft commission, signed by Mike Arowosegbe and Taiwo Adisa, Chairman and General Secretary of the Association respectively, and acknowledged by the EFCC on February 20, 2017, the house owners requested for thorough investigation of the activities of Winning Clause Limited and its promoter, Mrs. Okwubanago, an estate developer and recovery of the ‘’monies’’ collected from them allegedly ‘’under false pretence.’’
But the steaming disagreement which has seen the parties slug it out at different offices of law enforcement agencies including the police took a frightening turn when Okwubanago, who is laying claim to owning Winning Clause Nigeria Limited, was said to have deployed bulldozers to pull down some of the houses.
Although, the ownership of the company stands contentious, Okwubanago informed The Guardian that she is the rightful owner of Winning Clause Limited and there is no dispute about that. She declared, “I am a Director of Winning Clause with the highest shares capital. The Corporate Affairs Commission is there for you to verify.”
But the house owners dispute her claim.
According to the petition: ‘’Between 2009 and 2011, most of us subscribed to an Estate located at Plot 67, Kafe District, Gwarinpa Extension, Abuja, then known as Saraha City Estate and which belonged to Saraha/Proform Limited at the time. By 2012, when many had completed their buildings and actually started living in the houses, another developer named Winning Clause Limited entered into the fray and claimed it was the rightful owner of the plots.
‘’A court action was instituted by the claimants and after some legal fireworks, the parties resolved to enter into a Consent Judgement in October 2013 and the judgement was delivered by the Abuja High Court number 24 on November 28, 2013.’’
The house owners maintained that with that judgement, the said Plot 67, Kafe District was transferred to Winning Clause Limited and their members elected to work with the company in accordance with the Consent Judgement, disclosing that to their utmost shock and dismay, another claimant to Winning Clause Limited surfaced in January 2017.
The residents said that while they were all along trying to cope with alleged ‘’highhandedness’’ of the Managing Director of Winning Clause Limited, (Mrs. Okwubanago), they were taken aback by the emergence of another claimant to the company, which was awarded the right to Plot 67, Kafe District by the Court.
Attaching a letter by a counsel to one Mrs. Halimat Abdulazeez, which effectively placed a caveat on the said company, the petitioners said that contrary to the consent judgment of the court, Mrs. Okwubanago imposed a series of levies and fees on their members and forced them to pay ‘’humongous’’ amounts under threats to life and property.
The residents alleged that Mrs Okwubanago deployed agents of the FCT administration during the tenure of Senator Bala Mohammed, who allocated the plot to her company in March 2011 and has through Winning Clause accounts in at least four banks collected about N1 billion (One billion Naira only) from our members,’’ the association added.
They stated further: ‘’Our members have also paid at least N70 million (seventy million Naira) as Infrastructure fees for which the company has refused to give account after failing to undertake the infrastructural development the money was paid for. Our fear is that besides the said N1billion the company had collected as land charges, the money collected under the guise of infrastructure could go down the drain if the activities of the company are not checked.’’
The petitioners said that their earlier checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) had revealed that Mrs. Okwubanago is not a director of the company and had confronted her with this fact in November 2016 but she refused to provide any concrete answers. The Guardian’s findings however revealed that Mrs Okwubanago is a Director of Winning Clause and the consent judgment rightly affirms this position.
The residents association accused Senator Bala Mohammed of revoking the allocation of their estate, earlier perfected in 2005 and allotted same to Proform West Africa (which entered into alliance with Saraha Homes).
According to the petitioners, ‘’Our investigations revealed that the company initially registered its office as Sapele Street, NSPMC Quarters, Garki II, Abuja (a residential building) and later 6B, Senanga street, off Accra Street, Wuse Zone 5 (office of its former lawyer, Barr. PIN Ikwueto, SAN). Currently, it has no office in Abuja, except the one it occupies in the estate.
‘’In the CAC documents, One Mr. Ayah is registered as MD. Now we have Mrs. Okwubanego and lately, we have been told that Mrs. Safinat Emengo and Mr. Tony Emengo are the consultants to Winning Clause and have authority on all issues. Incidentally, this husband and wife were residents in the estate and former executive members of the residents association. Mr. Emengo was pioneer vice chairman, while his wife, Safinat was treasurer and secretary of the association at different times. Sir, this is disturbing to say the least.”
Mrs. Okwubanago insists that the estate was allocated to her company in 2011 under the mass housing scheme policy and vowed to take full possession in accordance with the judgment of court. Sources at the anti-graft agency confirmed the petition by the house owners and disclosed that all the parties would soon be invited by the commission.