A property developer in the Ifako area of Lagos State, Hakem Garba, has been accused of defrauding house seekers of N50 million with the promise of getting them an apartment.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Garba allegedly defrauded the victims said to be over 300 with the promise that a house on Mojisola Street, Ifako-Ijaiye, Lagos, would be immediately completed and given to them.
It was gathered that the suspect convinced the victims to pay in advance under the pretext of speeding up completion of the house.
The house seekers reportedly found out that they had been defrauded when they got to the building on July 23, 2018, and found different tenants in the apartments.
The spokesperson for the group, Richard Ekoro, said Garba told them to come to the house on July 22 to collect keys to their apartments.
“Some made payments for the house in November and December 2017, while some paid for their apartments between January and June 2018.
“We all exercised patience amidst hardship for those months with the hope of moving in soon.
“Garba told us individually to be present on the premises on July 22 to pick keys to our apartments. We were speechless when we got there and found out that we had been defrauded. The 16 flats were already occupied, while Garba had absconded.”
Ekoro, who noted that the incident had a devastating effect on them all, said some victims that were pregnant lost their pregnancies, adding that many of the victims had become homeless.
One of the victims, Alhaja Yusuf Risi, who claimed that she paid N220,000 on behalf of her daughter for a mini-flat, said Garba told her that the apartment would be ready in three months.
“We paid money to the man inside the building and he told us that within three months, the building would be completed. Anytime we went there, he told us that there was something they wanted to fix in the apartment.
“I paid for the apartment so that my pregnant daughter won’t stress herself while taking her daughter to school and because her husband’s workplace is not far from the building.”
Risi, who noted that she had not seen Garba since July, urged the state government to help her and other victims recover their money from the developer, adding that they had nowhere to go.
Another victim, Melody Akeme, said after the incident, some of the victims were forced to accommodate one another as many did not have anywhere to stay.
“A lady lost her six-month-old pregnancy; an 84-year-old woman is on medication as a result of a heart attack she had when she got the news that she had been defrauded.
“We have become a family as a result of this issue; we are accommodating one another as some people don’t have anywhere to go.
“Some have even relocated to their states; but we believe Ambode can come to our rescue because he is the governor of the people.
“We have gone to the Ministry of Justice which is our only hope. We are pleading with the state governor to come to our rescue.
“About 60 per cent of us are youths and we all know it is not easy to get a job and money in Lagos. Some people borrowed money to rent the apartments, but we have now become stranded.”
A fashion designer, Olayiwola Yinusa, who was also one of the victims, lamented that his family had become homeless.
The victims’ spokesperson, Ekoro, urged Ambode to help them out of their predicament, adding that they were suffering.
He advised other Lagosians to beware of fake landlords, agents and developers.
Garba and one of his agents had been arraigned before a magistrate’s court in Lagos.