By Bennett Oghifo
More people are having their plans of owning dream homes somewhere in the country dashed because of inconclusive transactions that most victims have alleged were either programmed by the developers or circumstantial.
The ordeal can happen even after the unsuspecting subscribers have made full payment for their preferred housing units, and their harrowing feeling is compounded by a sinking feeling that they are unprotected because the housing sector is unregulated.
For one of the affected families in Abuja, it has become a source of anxiety that over five years after paying in full for their preferred house-type at an estate being developed jointly by “Hortigraph Nigeria Ltd, and Hallmark Synergy Integrated Services Ltd., in collaboration with ASO Savings and Loans Plc., as the project financiers” at Karmo District in Abuja, the developers have neither released keys to the home nor pointed at the plot where the housing unit would stand.
The distraught head of the family (name withheld) said his desire to have a home in Abuja compelled him to respond to a beautiful flyer of an estate being developed by Hortigraph Limited that promised quick delivery of a housing unit. He found the proposal worthy and sold his property in Lagos to enable him pay for a preferred house-type at Hortigraph estate in Karmo, Abuja. After the payment, the nightmare began, he said.
“When I came to Abuja, I realised the rent was high and thought the best thing to do was to buy a home. So, I went to Lagos and sold my property in Isheri and, based on referral from a friend, I went to ASO Savings (a mortgage bank), where the managers told me they were marketing an estate owned by Hortigraph Limited in Karmo District in Abuja.
“From 2015, these people have collected N27.3 million from me, and they have not delivered up till today,” the subscriber told THISDAY, stating that he was certain other people are suffering similar fate.
“I went to ASO, and what they were saying, both sides (mortgage bank and developer), was that they had three phases in the estate and they were using the first phase that they had completed to convince everybody to pay. They took me to the phase one and I liked what I saw, as every other subscriber who paid, and that was why I paid.”
He said shortly after payment, the marketers that interacted with him at the beginning, disappeared, creating a worrisome feeling. “Immediately after, the worst thing set in because the people who were their marketers in ASO at that time resigned after some time,” and within the period, he dug deep and found out that there was an unresolved problem between ASO and Hortigraph.
However, both companies, he said agreed that he had paid in full and that Hortigraph told him they were in the process of borrowing funds from another source to continue the project and promised to build homes for those who had paid in full, including him. “This was in January 2020 and in March there was no improvement.”
Last week, he told THISDAY that Hortigraph has not contacted him either, adding that he was desolate. “Why should I give N27.3 million to you people since 2015 without getting my home?”
In the offer letter Hortigraph gave to him, they specified that the basic fee was N24,900,000, to which was added value added tax and finder’s fee.
They ought to have delivered to him a 3 bedroom terrace duplex with BQ and that they would give him Deed of Sublease. The estate, they said is covered by a Certificate of Occupancy (issued by the Minister of the FCT, Abuja).
On completion of payment, Hortigraph wrote that “you shall be issued the following: final letter of allocation; Deed of Sublease; Consent to Register Deed of Sublease; Handover Certificate.”
Regrettably, more than five years, no house or land has been delivered to the subscriber that has paid in full for the desired housing unit.
The completion status was that the home would be partially developed- the outer façade of the building will be fully completed with external doors and windows while the internal works will be limited to plastering, conduit piping and wiring.
THISDAY contacted top officials of Hortigraph who said they could not say much about the transaction as the matter was in court. “I can’t say anything about it because the matter is in court.”
Also, an official of ASO that was contacted said he was not in a position to comment on the transaction.