1004 Residents Body Threatens Legal Action Over Alleged Falsehood 

Hyacinth CHINWEUBA

The Board of Trustees (BoT) and Executive Committee members of the 1004 Estate Home Owners and Residents Association (HORA), Victoria Island Lagos, has threatened to seek legal action against all those behind the current video on the current state of the Estate with “clearly defamatory contents on the management of the Estate” built over 40 years ago.

In a statement issued by the Legal Officer of HORA,  Barrister Femi Gbenle on Sunday, the group said “our lawyers have been briefed to act on the clearly libelous attack on members of the BoT, Exco and other homeowners who have been defamed in that video and other false and negative publications.”

While commending those who have reached out to them “with questions and concerns as well as with words of support and encouragement”, the HORA BoT posited that much of the claims in the video ” are more than a mix of falsehood”layered with half truths, as the content did not reflect  the current state of the Estate. Last week, officials of the 1004 Estate Community Development Association (CDA) led by Mr. Matthew Ibadin at a press conference made some allegations bordering on financial impropriety in the region of N8billion against HORA officials.

According to HORA BoT in its press release “we state unequivocally that there is no N5billion or any other falsely quoted sum in 1004 Estates that has been mismanaged or misappropriated. The key purveyors of these false claims are well known in the Estate for several infractions which include non payment of rent service charge and theft of electricity.”

The statement added that “having been sanctioned for these infractions (consistent with the Estate bye laws) and curbed by our current press conference and the attendant public outcry, they have resorted to outright lies and half truths via social media and negative press to divert attention from their illegal activities.”

Describing members of the BoT and Exco of HORA “as well as the various committees as professionals who volunteered to serve the Estate pro bono and derive no pecuniary benefit” the statement said “anyone with contrary claim, should not stop at making cheap mobile videos but publish their evidence.”

The BoT affirmed that the current Exco is headed by Barrister Lara Ademola “who only became Acting Chairman in March 2020 and that general meetings of the Estate residents are held twice a year in line with the provision of the 1004 HORA constitution to give updates including financial reports to Homeowners and Residents and also receive feedback.”

Giving account of how services in the Estate are run from the service charges collected yearly, the BoT said for the year 2020 the budgeted service charge is N626,000 per flat and for 2019, it was N546,000. It is pertinent to say that as at September 20, 2020 collection rate for the full 2019 service charge was 85%while for the current 2020 only 40% of the apartment in the Estate have fully paid while 45% have paid half as at the same date.”

It further stated that the management of the Estate provides “a suite of services, using professional service providers and these include 24 hours power supply, water treatment and supply, security, cleaning and gardening, waste (including sewage) collection and disposal, elevators, club houses, maintenance of common areas and recreational facilities.”

Throwing more light on the situation, the BoT members stated that the 1004 Estate has 1074 apartments and average collection rate annually is between 60% and 70% and that in the last five years, the average service charge stood at about N500,000 with contention that since 2015 when 1004 HORA took over management of the Estate, it is only this year that  charges will amount to over N600,000.”

On the issue of electricity, the BoT pointed out that some residents rather than pay for their electricity “would prefer to steal power by bypassing their meters.” It revealed that “a forensic audit of our power account showed that over 40% of residents in the Estate were involved in power theft.”

“This organised power theft was so prevalent that it brought the power infrastructure to the brink of collapse as receivables could no longer sustain power delivery to due-paying residents” adding that “at a point, the deficit from power theft was over N185million and rising.”

According to them, “these power theft and illegal connections apart from the financial impact, also poses a danger of fire to the Estate.” Regrettably “the firm stance of 1004 HORA under the chairmanship of Barr. Lara Ademola in fighting these criminal acts has attracted extreme hostility and propaganda against her, other HORA officials, Home Owners and the BoT by these perpetrators.”

On structural integrity and outlook of the buildings in the Estate, the BoT stated that “some concerns had been raised by residents and well meaning members of the public on the structural integrity of our buildings. To address these concerns, a firm of structural engineers was engaged to carry out an integrity audit of the buildings and their expert assessment reassured of the structural integrity of the buildings.  They also affirmed that there is no impending danger of collapse of the structures.”

However, not oblivious of the facade of the buildings and the need to improve on this, the BoT said “it is important to note that when the apartments were sold, it was mandatory for each buyer/homeowner to pay N300,000 as Asset Replacement Fund to be pooled for capital development and refurbishment of the Estate.”

“The funds totalled about N322million at the time, but the then facility managers Messrs 1004 Estate Limited; a company owned by Samuel Ukpong with whom these funds were domiciled, failed to release the funds when the management of the Estate was taken over by 1004 HORA. We are currently in court with this company to recover the money with accrued interest believed now to be in the region of N600million.

The statement further stated that in February, 2020 an Estate Refurbishment Committee was set up to coordinate the execution of needed civil, mechanical and electrical works to improve the look and value of the Estate and the exercise is currently ongoing.”

It would be recalled that on September 18, 2020 HORA had held a press conference to draw attention to what it called threat to life, property and peaceful enjoyment in the Estate “by the same persons who engaged in electricity theft and nonpayment of service charges” but allegedly enjoyed the protection of the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Bar Beach Police Station against sanctions imposed by the Estate in line with its community bye laws.

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