National Assembly,EFCC, others plan onslaught on FCT illegal developers

The House of Representatives held an investigative hearing in Abuja on Thursday, where critical stakeholders vowed to end land and house racketeering and other illegal activities of some estate developers in the Federal Capital Territory.

At the event, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the agency had recovered N53.97bn from fraudulent estate managers.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the hearing organised by an ad hoc committee open, decried that developers were fleecing Nigerians and frustrating mass housing efforts of the government.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Majority Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, said Nigerians had lost billions of naira to the sharp practices in the real estate sector.

He said, “With the current housing deficit in Nigeria, which is estimated to be between 17 and 20 million housing units and said to be increasing annually by 900,000 units, the potential cost of overcoming this deficit is about N6tn. This highlights the huge opportunity that exists in the real estate sector.”

The Speaker commended efforts by the Independent Corrupt Practices (and Other Related Offences) Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission towards sanitising the sector.

In his presentation, Owasanoye noted that the anti-graft agency had been receiving petitions on property matters from off-takers, prospective buyers and the general public regarding the behaviour and antics of real estate developers within the FCT and sometimes outside of the FCT.

Acting on petitions filed with the ICPC, Owasanoye said, the commission had successfully investigated and prosecuted some errant public officers.

He said, “Our investigations have led to the recovery of assets and funds, which are either considered to have been diverted that were retrieved in the public interest.

“We conducted a systems study and review of mass housing delivery in the FCT in 2010 and 2011 where it was discovered that members of the Real Estate Developers of Association of Nigeria, who had been allocated huge plots of land for mass housing development in the FCT, in collaboration with the Federal Government, through the Federal Mortgage Bank; and its responsibility to provide infrastructure upon which the allocations were made to them; and they were to work with the National Housing Fund contributors.

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“These developers failed in the payment of counterpart funding and the delivery of infrastructure to project sites, rather they resorted to offering and selling the plots to the highest bidder contrary to the policy.

“Some of these abuses were hardly ever sanctioned by the FCDA. In other words, the FCDA, in full knowledge of these abuses, simply looked the other way.”

The ICPC boss recalled that the now-disbanded Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, in collaboration with the FMBN, investigated some real estate developers who defaulted in remittance and payment of money due to the government.

He added, “The ICPC continued and completed this exercise and from it recovered a total of N53,968,158,974.64.

“The figure comprises of part of the money that was paid and handed over in advance, about N858m, fully recovered and returned to the FMBN; N1bn post-dated cheques that are due this month of October and N51bn plus that were given in promissory notes in advance notarised agreement FMBN.”

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