The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), on Thursday, called for measures to rid the real estate sector in Abuja of fraud.
ICPC Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, who made the call at the investigative hearing by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the operations of real estate said lack of regulation in the sectors makes developers to take advantage of Nigerians.
PREMIUM TIMES had published a series of special reports on how estate developers are taking advantage of Nigerians who patronise them.
The reports chronicled experiences of Nigerians who subscribed to real estate plans by different developers but after making full payment, the developers failed to deliver what was agreed.
In some cases, estate developers delivered modified house or substandard houses different from the original plans sold to the subscribers.
Following the publishing of the stories in March and April 2021, the House had resolved to probe the sector after adopting a motion by Boma Goodhead (PDP, River) in June.
Consequently, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila constituted an ad hoc committee chaired by Blessing Onuh (APC, Benue) to investigate the sector.
Mr Owansanye said the commission had received several petitions and complaints on the activities of estate developers and government officials, noting that the sector is a safe haven for money launderers.
He disclosed that the ICPC had prosecuted several developers, collaborators and even officials of the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA).
“Corrupt public officials use real estate as a vehicle to hide ill-gotten wealth and money laundering, they acquire estates to conceal the illegal origin of the funds. This was made possible by lack of proper documentation.”
The anti-corruption czar also accused the Real Estate Development Association (REDA) of misconduct and diversion of funds in the mass housing scheme.
“In 2021, we conducted a survey of mass housing in Lugbe in the Federal Capital Territory, in 2010 and 2011. It was discovered that members of the Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) who have 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 with the responsibility to provide infrastructure, upon which the allocations were made to them failed in the payment of counterpart funding, and in the delivery of projects.”
“They resorted to offering and selling the plots to the highest bidders, contrary to the policy,” he said.
Also speaking at the hearing, the Minister of the FCT, Mohammed Bello, said the idea of mass housing is a good initiative but there have been challenges in the implementation.
He assured the committee that the ministry will implement the outcome of the investigative hearing.
President of REDAN, Aliyu Wamakko, said not all developers are members of the association because its membership is not mandatory.
He, therefore, called for legislation to regulate the sector in a bid to stop the impunity by rogue developers.
The committee resolved that the ministry and relevant agencies should submit the data on developers to the committee.
While declaring the hearing open earlier, Mr Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Leader of the House, Ado Dogwa, said the resolutions of the committee would bring “some lasting solutions to the lack of transparency, professionalism, and accountability in the real estate sector, while producing legislation to protect home buyers from unfair contracts and other sharp practices highlighted in the sector.”
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