By Ishola Balogun and Aderonke Adeyeri
Land remains a gift of nature to man. Its acquisition, most often, is fraught with one form of controversy or the other especially in urban and semi-urban areas. The emergence of land speculators popularly called Omo-onile in Lagos and other thriving cities of the country does not offer any pleasant experience to many too. While a lot of such cases ended up in law courts, others have sparked unimaginable crises leading to loss of lives and wanton breakdown of law and order.
It is in this light that property dealers offer professional assistance to clients in order to make their dreams of owing a home become reality. But are they immuned to the vagaries of the Omo-onile syndrome offering genuie service to customers, or they are thorns in the flesh of would be buyers?
Recently, some of those who procured plots of land through Pretoria Atlantic, a Lagos based property dealer told Saturday Vanguard how they paid for plots of land since 2009 and are yet to be given land allocation.
Dr Anifowoshe Gabriel, an employee of Lagos State Health Service Commission, one of the clients of Pretoria Atlantic told Saturday Vanguard that since he completed his N420,000 mandatory down payment, it had been stories upon stories. “I paid through a mortgate system a total of N420,000 and for close to two years now, the company has failed to give me posession of the peice of land or to return my money.”
Narrating how he got into the deal, Anifowoshe stated: “I read an advertorial on a daily newspaper where Pretoria Atlantic advertised a mortgage program on acres of land located at Pakuro, Ogun state. The acres of land is located at Pakuro opposite Deeper Life campground which is popularly known as Diamond Estate and the mortgage was to run for 12 months at N50,000 monthly on a total of N600,000 with a provision of paying 2/3 of the money (420,000) before getting allocation and taking possession of the land. The advert also indicated the physical possession of the land after paying two third of the total money”.
He continued: “Despite the completion of the mandatory payment close to two years now, the company has failed to either give me possession of the land or refund my money.”
Anifowose added that at a time, the company promised to give him another plot of land close to Sagamu at another estate called Intercontinental estate but all to avail.
Saturday Vanguard visited Pretoria Atlantic located opposite Hamio Plaza, Isheri, Lagos and on the three occasions we visited the company, and inspection of the site, the Director ,Mr Olalekan Awonusi was not available to react to the issue. The Customer Care officer, Miss Blessing Francis confirmed that the management was making efforts to get across to all the subscribers who paid but yet to recieve allocation, adding that letters have been prepared waiting to be dispatched to affected subcribers.
Also speaking on the issue, the Site Manager, and the company’s spokesperson, Adeyemi Badmus gave an insight into what led to the delay in allocations. He allayed fears of any scam adding that the estate is there and will soon be ready for allocation. “When we had this problem, we begged them to be patient and we even told them that we will give them another place and compensate them with additional half plot. There is nothing to hide, we did not just start this business today, we have no record of fraud, subscribers should just be patient with us.”
According to him, “at about the time we planned to begin the allocation shortly after everybody had paid, families involved in the land had issues among themselves on the land and the issued had just been settled. Very soon we will begin allocation of the land.”
Badmus who refused to state what the issues were stated that the rainning season slowed down work on the site since they had to clear the bush and levelled the ground before allocation. Badmus who took Saturday Vanguard to the site to inspect level of work done at the Diamond Estate at Ijere, Ibafo, Ogun state, maintained that the company had spent so much in making sure that the place was ready for allocation before now adding that now that the rains had ceased, work will begin on site in earnest and within a couple of months, the place will be ready for allocation. “I want to assure you that within the next two months, say by February, we will begin allocation to all of them.
“During the crisis, the management had to begged them and gave them option of moving them Intercontinental estate which is close to Sagamu and added half plot of land to each subscriber for causing them all the trouble in the change in location. Some subscribers agreed and moved to Intercontinental estate while some refused bluntly. Luckily for us, the case has been resolved a month ago and the only challenge we have now is to have a dry land to move equipments to site and make it ready for allocation. But we are promising that before the end of February every subscriber will have physical allocation of his or her land,” Badmus stated.