The crisis in the 41-year-old 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos with respect to management has drawn the attention of members of the Lagos State House Assembly.
During their oversight assignment, there was revelation of incompetence and abuse of power by some self-appointed leaders among members of the 1004 Estate Home Owners & Residents Association (HORA).
The group led by one Miss Omolara Ademola; a lawyer was said to have allegedly constituted themselves into a management body in charge of services in the Estate. They have reportedly given themselves the status of life members of HORA Board of Trustees.
Members of the Assembly Committee on Housing led by Hon. Abdulrahman Yusuf
whose visit had taken residents by surprise due to the impromptu nature, were shocked with serious lapses associated with the general maintenance of once glorious Federal Government-owned housing facility.
As they took time to move round the Estate, their observation and interaction with some residents revealed much about the alleged monumental financial impropriety on the part of the group as the average resident complained of arbitrary increase in annual service charge without commensurate service delivery or accountability to the entire residents.
The Estate currently has no fewer than 1,744 apartments with each paying annual service charge of about N650,000.
The lawmakers also had a first knowledge of how facility providers or managers render services without accountability. This was evident in the multi million naira power plant where improper record keeping in diesel delivery services that had gulped hundreds of million of naira over the years was observed. Records of diesel delivery and consumption shown to the lawmakers and journalists revealed a glaring evidence of impropriety as quantities of diesel which had reportedly gulped hundreds of million naira in the last few years could not be shown and neither were the plant and operations managers of the Estate able to explain what went wrong.
There was also alleged dictatorship within the Estate as the cabal led by Ademola were alleged to be suppliers of the diesel through their proxy and approving authority at the samething without recourse to the assembly of all residents.
The visit which coincided with a media briefing by officials of the 1004 Estate Community Development Association, led by Mr. Matthew Ibadin was eye opener as some residents who possibly have hand in the impropriety in the Estate were practically opposing the lawmakers for coming to inspect the Estate without giving them prior notice.
While the CDA officials did not see anything wrong in the visit of the Assembly members since the Association had earlier sent a petition to the Lagos State Government with respect to mismanagement of the finances meant for maintenance of the Estate, it took the lawmakers some painstaking efforts to explain that they were on oversight assignment as representatives of Lagos residents.
They explained further that it was not out of place to come into the Estate without prior notice as they did, to enable them see the situation as it is, rather than depend on deceptive arrangements that would further worsen the existing problem.
While speaking with journalists, Chairman of the House Committee, Hon. Yusuf said it would be premature to disclose the House members’ conclusion on the visit until they have submitted their findings to the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Addressing journalists after the departure of the lawmakers, the CDA Chairman, Mr. Matthew Ibadin traced the current crisis in the Estate to the financial impropriety that began soon after government sold the 1004 flats to private system.
Ibadin gave a historical account of how the management of the Estate was wrestled from the Managing Director of 1004 Estate Limited, Mr. Samuel Ukpong who was initially in charge of the estate services.
He alleged that handling of the services and collection of service charge were removed from Ukpong due to his inability to account for the money collected from residents.
Regrettably; he said it never occurred to the residents that removal of Ukpong was going to pave way for monumental fraudulent practices in which about N8billion has remained unaccounted for, in the past six years.
A resident in the Estate who is a retired diplomat and one time Consul General to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Oluwatoyin Kayode Lawal corroborating the CDA’s assertion, said, “a cabal is running the Estate, and I must say there is a subtle ring of corruption going on in 1004. The Home Owners and Residents Association (HORA) has a coterie of very insolent individuals.”
The CDA chairman who was accompanied at the conference by some concerned CDA members including Adewale Adebayo, Chidi Agboso and others described the recent media reports alleging criminality against him by Omolara Ademola and her group in the name of HORA, as “spurious and warped attempt to stand truth on its head by a group desperate to evade accountability and the consequences of corrupt enrichment.”
He contended that since Ademola and a few others of HORA, (a body all of them including Ibadin founded), illegally hijacked leadership, many residents who dared to challenge their actions have remained persecuted. Giving account of how his life was being threatened with his home appliances destroyed by electricity due to poor management of faulty electric meter, he disclosed Ademola has been against him because he reported the matter to the police.
According to him, she had turned down police invitation seeking to hear own side of the matter. Rather than honour police invitation, Omolara Ademola and her cohorts hurriedly rushed to a Lagos High Court to obtain injunction restraining police authorities from arresting her and the self appointed Board of Trustee members of HORA.
To stem the endless regime of financial impropriety, abuse of power that thrives on illegality, lack of maintenance of the Estate and breach of peace among other things, the CDA Chairman, has called on relevant authorities such as Department of State Service, National Judicial Council and the Nigerian Bar Association to investigate Omolara Ademola who boastfully carries herself about as untouchable because of personal relationship she claims to have with judges and senior advocates.