Connect with us

‘Give us our money!’ Customers demand justice as subscriber loses N9.9mln to Paradise Estate

Crime

‘Give us our money!’ Customers demand justice as subscriber loses N9.9mln to Paradise Estate

Customer cries out after Richard Nyong’s Lekki Gardens robbed him of N9.9 million.

Zakari Uthman and his wife Aishat stepped into the corporate office of Paradise Estate in Abuja on September 17, 2018, intending to own a home.

The couple had already visited one of the firm’s project sites in Idu Sabo, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, before their visit (FCT).

uba-essay-competition-freelanews

For many citizens, being a homeowner in the nation’s capital is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The couple had been paying expensive rents in a posh Abuja neighborhood for almost a decade. As a result, it’s only natural to desire to stop paying rent. They resolved to buy the property using the wife’s name, Aishat Olajumoke Balogun.

On September 17, 2018, the couple paid an N5 million down payment on a three-bedroom Maisonette Duplex in the Paradise Estate.

The total cost of the project was N9.9 million. Following that, they received an offer letter to that effect.

The couple made the second tranche payment of N4.9 million four months later, on January 3, 2019.

These payments brought the overall project expense to a close. The project’s original deadline was set for December 31, 2019, but it was later pushed back. In the last three years, the deadline has been moved more than five times. The couple has yet to get their property as of the time of filing this report.

“…We have not only lost money that could have accrued on the mutual funds we liquidated at 12 percent to quickly pay off the initial money but also took a facility at 27 percent to complete the payment with the hope that by the end of 2019, we will no longer have to pay rent,” Balogun said.

On Friday, March 11, a video emerged of disgruntled clients storming the firm’s headquarters to protest irregularities with their land titles.

“Give us our money…we will make sure the world hears our cries. We don’t have money but we will continue to make noise for the world to know…they are 419ers.”

Also, four years earlier, in August 2018, the Association of House Owners and Residents (AHOAR), led by Samson Oche, held a similar protest against the same property firm owned by Lekki Homes. This time, the house owners protested over poor job delivery and non-issuance of house titles, among other concerns.

Some inscriptions read: “where is our title document Richard, we are tired of your deceits,” “Our roofs are giving way with the slightest rainstorm.”

“We have been promised for three weeks from the date of handover of our units to receive our title documents but three years down the lane, it’s been stories upon stories,” Oche said.

Among the protesters was Ogbugo Ukoha. He had lived on the estate for more than a year at the time of the demonstration, but he was more concerned about the land title. He informed the Nigerian News Agency that although the property was engulfed in litigation, it continued to sell.

He claimed that although the Federal High Court in Abuja had previously ruled in favour of a third party, the Paradise Estate continued to sell to uninformed members of the public.

“The developer sold the property to everyone off-plan…surprisingly, after having paid, we discovered that they have been in court for the last, probably, five years during which he was selling and still assuring the owner of the place.

“By February, the FCT High Court gave a judgment against paradise having gotten this land through a third party, which means those of us who bought have been deceived into buying an asset we don’t own.”

According to the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Ukoha is an Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage, and Retailing Infrastructure (NMDPRA). However, he could not be reached at the time of reporting this article to inquire about whether some of the concerns had been addressed.

This reporter attempted to visit his office at the NMDPRA on Friday, April 8 but was denied admittance.

Meanwhile, the disgruntled couple’s full payment should have resulted in timely project delivery, but Paradise Estate has consistently missed its delivery deadlines.

Aside from the original deadline of December 31, 2019, the firm pushed out the deadline to January 3, 2020, citing factors such as the cost of construction supplies.

Later, Zakari and his wife Aisha met with Blessing Nyong-Essien, the firm’s Managing Director, as well as another top official identified as Taofeek, a doctor. The couple was promised that the project will be completed by March 31, 2020, with the infrastructure completed by May 31, 2020.

After the meeting, they were so satisfied with the degree of assurance that they paid the project’s Value Added Tax (VAT) of N495, 000 to the Federal Government and informed the landlord of their plan to depart their present building when the lease expired in May 2020. But it all came to a halt.

When the company failed to reach an earlier deadline, a new delivery date was established for July 2020. November 12, 2020, December 31, 2020, and February 28, 2021, have all been added to the schedule.

This meant that three years after making the payment, the couple had yet to get the keys to the entire building.

“In the offer letter we were issued on September 14, 2018, it stated that our property will be delivered to us within 12 months which had elapsed by December 31, 2019, going by the payment dates,” a furious Aishat Balogun said.

“We visited the site on January 1, 2020, to ascertain the level of completion because the company lines [phone] were not going through, and we were disappointed with the state of progress.”

They wanted a refund at this point because the company had continually broken its agreements.

Aishat contacted a well-known social media influencer who had been hired to help promote the real estate project from the start.

When the influencer urged the complainant to use whatever legal measures were required to get her project delivered or seek a refund, the complainant was taken aback.

“Based on the contract of sales, the house is to be delivered 12 months with a three-month grace period or four months in cases of force majeure. All these, I have graciously given. Then according to the contract, the buyer has the right to terminate the contract after two months of non-delivery and you guys would have eight months to pay me,” she wrote in a letter to the firm dated Monday, September 6, 2021.

“Even if I add all of these together, you have all grossly defaulted on all grounds,” she added.

On September 8, 2021, Eniola Olaoye, an official from the Client Services Unit responded to the mail announcing her allocation.

“Kindly find the attached letter with respect to the delivery of your allocated unit M3C Unit 1, Paradise Ville, Idu Sabo.”

Paradise Estate Limited’s last post on the social media platform (Facebook), as of the time of filing this report was on April 25, 2018.

Who is behind Paradise Estate, Abuja?

Lekki Gardens, a leading real estate corporation based in Lagos, Nigeria, created the Paradise Estate in Abuja.

When it arrived in Abuja in August 2015, the goal was to produce 100,000 housing units by 2018 and one million by 2023. It’s unclear whether this objective was met.

Blessing Nyong Essien’s LinkedIn page indicates that she is the MD of the Paradise Estate, which is owned by Life Camp Paradise Estate. She’s also a signatory on the business’s bank account.

An attempt to determine who the true owners and shareholders of the Life Camp Paradise Estate were revealed to be incongruous with the company’s name.

For example, the name on Aishat’s payment paperwork – The Life Camp Paradise Limited – differed from the name on the letterhead holding the official allocation of a three-bedroom duplex to the complaint – The Paradise Abuja.

Furthermore, the provisional allocation signed by Nyong-Essien and Motunrayo Oloruntoba was on behalf of Paradise Estate Limited, which is not the same as the name on the letterhead.

A public search of the name Paradise Estate Limited turned up a firm registered at 15, Erie Street, Off Sakonba Road, Benin City, on June 26, 2002, with registration number 455426. Arigbe Ebuwa and Ibude Osazee are the only two directors.

The Life Camp Paradise Limited was the subject of a similar search. It was registered on May 6, 2016, with two people – Imeh Christiana Amida and Stella-Marie Omogbai – as directors and shareholders, according to the findings.

In 2015, Amida announced the launch of the Paradise Estate in Abuja as the Chief Operating Officer of Lekki Gardens.

She said, “The Paradise is a new lifestyle community conceived to provide Abuja’s growing upwardly mobile middle class the rare privilege of owning choice homes at extremely low prices just like we have done in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

Amida further explained that the new project was necessitated by the demand for the Lekki Gardens debut project – Games Paradise –, which sold out barely one month after it was launched, The Guardian reported.

Findings based on information gathered from multiple sources showed the Lekki Gardens Estate Limited referenced by Amida is owned by multiple directors – which includes Richard Nyong, Olusola Nyong, Hon. Gbenga O., Engr. Kemi A. and Christiana Amida M.

Richard in an interview with City People, a lifestyle platform was described as “the chairman of The Paradise, Abuja”.

Nyong-Essien manages the Paradise Estate introduced in Abuja in 2015 and there is a likelihood that the three persons are related based on our findings.

Richard is linked to five other firms – Lekki Springs Limited, Get Too Rich Investment Limited, Lekki Gardens Facility Management Limited, Lekki Gardens Emporium Limited, and Lekki Gardens Horizons Limited.

His fellow director, Olusola, has interests in about seven others. They include Get Too Rich Investment Limited, Lekki Gardens Facility Management Limited, Lekki Gardens Emporium Limited, Lekki Gardens Horizons Limited, Lekki Palms Limited, Lekki Springs Limited, Lekki Gardens Horizon Limited, and Lekki Gardens Estate limited.

Paradise Estate firm reacts
When contacted, Paradise Estate’s client service officer, who had done repeated mail exchanges with the aggrieved couple, Eniola Olaoye, did not respond to calls and a text message sent to her phone number.

Nyong-Essien, the authorised signatory in the entire deal, neither answered nor returned calls. This reporter further sent a text message but there was no response.

When a call was put through to her second line, a lady identified as Tosin answered but terminated it when she heard the questions. This reporter later called back but she advised The ICIR to visit the office.

Tosin, who later introduced herself as a personal assistant to Nyong-Essien, was asked to book an appointment since her MD had gone incommunicado. She was briefed about the purpose of the meeting, including the allegation that the firm was fraudulent. But she has not responded to date.

She said, “The Paradise is a new lifestyle community conceived to provide Abuja’s growing upwardly mobile middle class the rare privilege of owning choice homes at extremely low prices just like we have done in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

Amida further explained that the new project was necessitated by the demand for the Lekki Gardens debut project – Games Paradise –, which sold out barely one month after it was launched, The Guardian reported.

Findings based on information gathered from multiple sources showed the Lekki Gardens Estate Limited referenced by Amida is owned by multiple directors – which includes Richard Nyong, Olusola Nyong, Hon. Gbenga O., Engr. Kemi A. and Christiana Amida M.

Richard in an interview with City People, a lifestyle platform was described as “the chairman of The Paradise, Abuja”.

Nyong-Essien manages the Paradise Estate introduced in Abuja in 2015 and there is a likelihood that the three persons are related based on our findings.

Richard is linked to five other firms – Lekki Springs Limited, Get Too Rich Investment Limited, Lekki Gardens Facility Management Limited, Lekki Gardens Emporium Limited, and Lekki Gardens Horizons Limited.

His fellow director, Olusola, has interests in about seven others. They include Get Too Rich Investment Limited, Lekki Gardens Facility Management Limited, Lekki Gardens Emporium Limited, Lekki Gardens Horizons Limited, Lekki Palms Limited, Lekki Springs Limited, Lekki Gardens Horizon Limited, and Lekki Gardens Estate limited.

Meanwhile, Aisha Ahmed, the account officer that earlier introduced Aishat Balogun to the Paradise Estate, simply attributed the situation to ‘force majeure.’

Force majeure in business is a situation where a force of nature or unforeseen circumstances prevent someone or a party from fulfilling his or her part of an agreement. It is usually a clause mostly embedded in contract agreements.

“Her house is ready,” Ahmed stated when asked when the property would be handed over.

“It is just for them to work on the infrastructure. In fact, an email has been sent to her and other affected persons.”

This reporter reminded her that despite repeated emails previously sent to the subscribers including Balogun, the company still reneged on its agreements.

She was also reminded of the need to provide a more specific date this time. But she placed the call on hold and never picked up until the reporter terminated it. Subsequent calls were ignored.

Aisosa S. Sunny-Ekos is the head of Legal Services Department in Lekki Gardens. His official email is aisosa@lekkigardens.com. He also spoke officially with respect to the controversial property meant to be delivered by the Paradise Estate, Abuja. He also faulted Ahmed’s earlier claim of force majeure when The ICIR spoke with him on a phone call on Wednesday, March 17.

“That is not true,” he said.

Meanwhile, earlier, on Thursday On March 11, 2021, the lawyer replied to the email trail reaffirming the organisation’s commitment to delivering the building through his official email aisosa@lekkigardens.com.

“Yes, I am in copy of the email trail and I believe that the commitment of our client’s service team shall be duly complied with,” he wrote in part.

“We appreciate your patience thus far in this transaction and yet appeal for some more patience to enable us to conclude on the pending infrastructure works.”

But more than a year after the response, the aggrieved couple was yet to get their building delivered.

The email trail links Paradise Estate to Lekki Gardens – much like it is being fully managed by Lekki Gardens company.

Aishat Balogun also confirmed to this newspaper about a meeting held with Nyong-Essien in October 2019.

“I met with Richard personally at Karimo Estate close to ours and, he assured me Blessing (Nyong-Essien) was capable,” she added.

He confirmed the deal, describing it as a peculiar case. But, he would not provide further detailed information.

“I am conversant with her transaction. The letter from her lawyer is currently on my table. She subscribed for a three-bedroom,” he told this reporter, but he could not still establish exactly when the house would be delivered. This was after about one hour of back and forth conversation in an attempt to verify the claims and exact owners of the firm.

Finally, on Saturday, March 19, the complainant reached out to The ICIR to announce the estate had eventually agreed to refund the money (N9.9 million paid for the structure). But this time, the firm contacted the husband, Zakari.

The email, with the subject ’90 days paradise refund’ had an attachment of a refund application form.

The form’s content read with five conditions, among which was that the “refund repayment timeline is over a 90-day period.” Besides, it added, “interest is not payable on a refund.”

But the family kicked. “It’s so unfair collecting N9.9m after 40 months,” Balogun frowned.

“I want a property or the current value of the said property as of today. That is our position.”

If the content contained herein violates any of your rights, including those of copyright, you are requested to immediately notify us via news@freelanews.com
Continue Reading
Advertisement
You may also like...

Freelanews is a potpourri of news, entertainment, business, events and photos. This is no fake news.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

More in Crime

Advertise with us

BBNaija: Under the duvet

Trending

Advertisement

Exclusive

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Contact

+234 818 193 2000
Monday to Sunday: 8am - 11pm
To Top