Estate developer KYC, others have been forced to appear before the House committee over estate development malpractices.
From all indications, Mr Michael Ayuba Auta, the Chief promoter of KYC Real Estate Developers (KYC) along the Airport Road in Sabo Lugbe area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja maybe sinking into deeper problems with both the subscribers and the Federal House of Representatives Committee that is investigating the excesses, abuses, and operations of real estate developers in the country.
The Committee is chaired by the dogged and patriotic Hon. Blessing Onyeche Onuh representing Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency in Benue State.
Subscribers to the KYC estate and others like that especially within the FCT, Abuja have been going through unbearable agonies in the hands of these ruthless and heartless developers due to lack of regulations in the sector. It is believed that since Mallam Nasir el’ Rufai (now Governor of Kaduna State) left as FCT Minister years back, the ministers that have come after him have remained clueless, which has made it possible for all sorts of flight-by-night estate developers to take control of the hitherto well-planned Abuja.
The fears are that if the government does not step in and continue to allow these quarks to continue to have a field day the city of Abuja will soon become another slum and a huge challenge to the country. Having followed the activities of the House Committee within its short period of operation and watching the drama that is happening between KYC and its subscribers, it is obvious that developers such as KYC and their promoters are exploiting the loopholes in the housing regulatory laws to fleece subscribers of their herd earned money without fulfilling their own side of the agreement as developers.
From the information that our Correspondents who visited the estate on Airport Road gathered, KYC and its promoters operate like emperors as some of the people that subscribed to the estate since 2018 are yet to receive their plot allocations, yet KYC and its promoter keeps dishing out one draconian policy after another with no respect to the rule of law. Our Correspondents learnt that before he was stripped of the massive police escort/protection by the former Inspector-General of Police Mr Abubakar Adamu, the KYC promoter was alleged to have used the police to intimidate, harass and threatened subscribers whose only offence were their insistence that the right things be done as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with them.
It was also gathered that KYC has continued to expand the so-called estate ad-infinitum with no end in sight. The subscribers do not know where the estate begins and ends. It has multiple entries without perimeter fence, which estates should have so, security of lives and properties is not guaranteed at the place. Even though the promoters of KYC are not providing infrastructure in the estate, which is making it difficult and discouraging subscribers from continuing the development of their buildings, our Correspondent sighted a recent letter he wrote to all subscribers including those whose houses are still at different stages of development to start paying security levies. The estate does not have well laid out roads, no water, no drainage, no electricity, no perimeter fencing and no proper security, yet they brazenly request for security levies. In fact, the KYC estate is without any shape or form to say the least.
During our Correspondent’s visit, one of the subscribers whose project the KYC promoter has stalled because he reallocated him to a new plot due to flimsy excuse told our Correspondent that Mr Auta operates with tugs and harasses subscribers at will with draconian policies, which include forcing every subscriber to the estate to buy blocks from him; rent marine boards from him and so on. We understand that the plots in KYC estate have no beacon numbers and all pleas for the plots to be demarcated to enable subscribers differentiate their plot from that of others have fallen on deaf ears of the ‘emperor called Michael Auta and his KYC management.’
Amidst all these impunities that are going on at the place, he disclosed to our Correspondent that having sold the plots to the subscribers, KYC also insists that subscribers pay them at different stages of their housing development. He added, “You can imagine telling us that he (Michael Auyba Auta) must be the one that would build the fences around every house in the estate…who does that? At some point, he stopped all constructions in the estate on the account that every builder must purchase blocks from him, which was vehemently resisted. He is not a block maker for God’s sake. So, we resisted that as a collective.
“After that evil plot failed, he came with another scam that we all pay him to sink boreholes in every plot, which was also resisted by the subscribers. As we speak, over 100 subscribers if not more are in court with KYC and Michael Ayuba Auta over different levels of contractual breaches on the side of KYC. Moreover, building the fence around my plot of land in the estate is not KYC’s responsibility, their responsibility is building the global perimeter fence around the estate, which secures the estate against intruders; provide well laid out roads within the estate, bring in electricity, water, construct the drainage system and ensure the existence of the green areas as demanded by the government among other facilities.
“Since we subscribed into the KYC Lugbe estate, we have been requesting him to show us the evidence that KYC has the right approvals from the FCT and development authorities, but he has blatantly refused. He claims that the title documents exist but if it does, then show it to your subscribers to give them some level of comfort. When we had a sizable number of subscribers, we created a WhatsApp group to enable us to interact and he quickly went to change the name of the estate. That is also why a lot of people who were fast developing their plots in this estate decided to suspend work especially with the recent hint that development authorities in FCT would soon begin the demolition of unapproved estates in the city.
“Before now, if you come here (KYC estate) on weekends, you will see many subscribers working on their plots but since KYC and Mr Auta introduced all manners of anti-subscriber policies designed to exploit the people in the estate, you can see that it is like everything has stalled around here. Most people have put “For Sale” on their plots and building, which is very sad.
“Even those that have managed to complete their houses have refused to move in because of insecurity and lack of infrastructure within the estate. These are some of the issues we sincerely hope that Hon. Blessing Onyeche Onuh’s Committee will help us resolve. As subscribers, we want the Committee to help us confirm that KYC is not another scam estate waiting to be demolished someday by the development authorities. We want the committee to visit the site and let KYC show them where the state begins and ends.
“We also want the Committee to direct the FCT Minister to make it difficult for developers without title documents especially on estate lands to defraud people. The sad thing is that some of these developers go on television and radio to market lands and estates and the government will not react. They will sell lands to innocent people and collect the money and disappear. But when people finish building, the same government will wake up to demolish houses that were built with hard-earned millions of naira. That is not fair. If the government both at the State and Federal levels will step up their game, a lot of these criminal-minded developers that are only interested in defrauding the citizens under the guise of developing estates would be abolished from the housing sector of the Nigerian economy,” he stated.
As at the time of filing this report today (December 12, 2021), Mr Auta and KYC are practically in court with almost all the subscribers and some of them we understand have already won him in court, just as the court has mandated him to pay some damages to some subscribers but as usual, he has no respect for the Judiciary. Some of his workers told our Correspondent that their Oga has also refused all entreaties to relax some of his hard stance to enable the estate to move forward. He was even alleged to have boasted that both the police and the Courts cannot do him anything because of the powers behind him. So, it is left to Hon. Blessing Onyeche Onuh and his Committee to prove to Nigerians that KYC and its promoter is not above the law.
It was therefore not surprising that when the House of Representatives Committee that is investigating the excesses and operations of real estate developers in the country invited KYC to appear before the committee, he ignored them. The KYC promoter was not alone as the promoters of Realist Real Estate Developers also called the bluff of the House Committee. For that reason, the two dare devil developers have incurred the anger of the committee for failing to appear before it when summoned to answer to the complaints despite being invited on several occasions.
Nigerians, especially KYC Estate subscribers are therefore happy, and are watching with keen interest when the House Committee wielded their expected powers and placed KYC chief promoter and others like him under compulsory Parliamentary Summon. It is understood that KYC has been mandatorily directed to again appear before the Committee on Tuesday, December 14.
Others also invited include Supernatural Homes; Self-made Investment Nigeria Limited; Unity Hills; Zee Crest; Good Homes; Avastone and Realest among others.
The reason behind the decision of the Committee to forcefully drag KYC and its chief promoter and other developers before it is because they have tens of hundreds of complaints from subscribers to their estates with various degrees of infractions, oppression, high-handedness, impunity, harassment with tugs, obtaining by tricks and refusal to allocate subscribers their plots many years after they invested in the estates. But of all the developers that have appeared before the House Committee so far, none of them seem to display the sort of impunity and total disrespect to the Committee that KYC and its chief promoter.
The Committee is therefore angry with KYC and co because other serious-minded developers have made appearances before the House Committee and answered questions as demanded by the members. So, there is no reason why the developer of KYC Estate in Lugbe or any other developer for that matter should disregard the invitation of the Federal House of Representatives as if Nigeria operates a banana republic.
Developers who mean well for the FCT or Nigeria should be happy that at long last the government is thinking of regulating the housing sector. We can all recall that it was largely because of lack of regulation that a 21-storey building collapsed in Ikoyi Lagos State recently, killing the developers and nearly 50 other Nigerians. So, genuine developer should really not be afraid of the invitation by a House Committee that is working very hard to regulate that sector of the economy that have been fleecing Nigerians of their hard-earned money without control.
According to another victim in one of the recent estates demolished by the FCT also in the same embattled Lugbe axis of the city, “Most developers sell lands without the right approvals from the development authorities to innocent Nigerians who spend huge sums of money despite the challenges of a difficult economy to develop such plots only for the government to demolish the houses for lack of proper approval.
“In our own case, it is difficult that we lost our investments but, nothing was done to the developer that sold the fake plots to the people. When such unapproved estates are demolished by the Federal or State Government, the fraudulent developer will go scot-free and hundreds of the subscribers would bear the brunt. That is not right both in the sight of God and in the sight of man. I do not know if I will ever recover from the demolition of my house. So, my expectation is that the Committee aside from investigating the activities of these illicit developers must put a mechanism in place for future estate development fraudsters in both the FCT and the country.”
The good news is that the Committee is focused on addressing the petitions against the developers while also validating compliance of real estate developers to the Housing Development Guidelines of the Federal Capital Territory, Development Control manual and other extant laws guiding their operations as developers and registered companies.
Each week the committee invites several real estate developers for investigative meetings, a desk officer from the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is usually in attendance. The Committee has also requested desk officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and key departments under the Federal Capital Development Authority.
The guidelines for housing development in the FCT was gazetted on approval of the Federal Executive Council on 21 October 2009, the guidelines were designed to provide a standard procedure for access to land for housing development and to be used in conjunction with other manuals and standards.
The guidelines clearly stated that the pre-qualification requirements include: an assessment fee of 250,000.00 after which the developer will be issued the housing development guidelines of the FCT, Abuja Development Control Manual and the guidelines; for final design of engineering infrastructure for FCT and satellite towns; Legal requirements: applicant must be a corporate duly registered in Nigeria or corporate bodies established by law; Technical staff requirements: key names of technical staff to be deployed on project site who must be registered members of their professional bodies with not less than 6 years cognate experience each on similar projects and financial requirements: to provide insight into the financial viability of the applicant and hence the capability to perform and deliver the project on time.
Expectedly some real estate developers that have so far appeared before Hon. Blessing Onyeche Onuh have feigned ignorance of the extant law and attributed their non-adherence of the housing development guidelines of the FCT to the misconception that the guideline is meant for mass housing alone. This is not tenable before ignorance is never an excuse before the law.
Petitions the Committee has received so far ranged from a delayed delivery to none of houses or plots after receiving payment, unfair contracts, exploitative facility management practices, refusal to refund the money paid after a contract is breached by the developer, developer failing to give homebuyers the C of O, failing to provide necessary open spaces and green areas for recreation, building more units than approved by Development Control thereby causing congestion in the Estates, poor infrastructures and building conditions, flooding due to houses being constructed on waterways, breach of contracts, receiving funds and abandoning projects and so many others.
On that note, the Committee has requested that developers provide the following documents as submitted to the FCDA for pre-qualification, they include: Evidence of payment of assessment fee; Certified true copy of certificate of incorporation; Certificate of incorporation, Memorandum and articles of association, form CO7 and CO2: Three year tax clearance; Three years company audited accounts; Sworn affidavit on commitment to develop in accordance with the laid down guidelines and within stipulated time limit and the Names of technical staff i.e. an architect, a builder, a civil/structural engineer, an electrical engineer, a planner, a quantity surveyor and a land surveyor deployed to each site with a minimum of six years cognate experience on the job.
On finances, the developers are to present to the Committee their Project feasibility study report including: Project financial forecast and cash flow projections; Evidence of sources of project finance: a) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the developer and project financiers or b) evidence of self-financing ability; Development Proposals that will contain the conceptual layout plan of proposed development; preliminary architectural drawing; preliminary engineering drawings and other technical requirements as listed in the Housing Development guidelines for the FCT.