A mortgage deal in HELIU Residences supposed to make civil servants in Enugu State Government homeowners may have gone awry as subscribers, who moved into their apartments last year, are now reeling in misery and hardship after they were forcefully ejected by the developer, FIT Consult Limited.
The Guardian gathered that officials of the company, who were allegedly accompanied by thugs invaded the estate on March 16, when most of the occupants had gone to work, broke into the houses, brutalised some families and threw out their property.
The action of the company was in spite of a court order mandating parties to a motion on notice to maintain status quo ante pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The ejection came after each applicant had paid N130,000 as processing fees to a mortgage firm and another 20 per cent equity to the developer. These fees qualified them for a mortgage as civil servants and in 2019, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) allegedly approved their housing loans.
The same year, the FIT Consult negotiated and transferred all mortgage applicants to AG Mortgage Bank to inherit all transactions. The bank demanded another processing fee from the affected beneficiaries to enable it to undertake the processing of their Certificates of Occupancy (CofO) from the Ministry of Lands in Enugu.
The development led to a stakeholders meeting, where it was resolved that all applicants will pay 10 per cent of their loan as a perfect fee to fast-track the CofO. They were also required to complete houses (which were in the carcass stage) to their own taste and park in.
After the payment of the perfection fee, the affected residents were issued with allocation papers that enabled some of them to fix their houses.
“I spent up to N5 million naira to fix the house because it was a carcass. They only roofed and asked us to move in and complete it,” one of the affected occupants, Jude Obinna said.
Speaking through their spokesperson, Stephen Obi, the subscribers explained that their problem started when the primary mortgage bank, AG Mortgage Bank went to the Enugu State’s Ministry of Lands to process their documents after paying the necessary fees.
“It was discovered that the property developer, altered the original plan of the estate. Instead of having one bungalow in each on the 62 plots of land, the company altered it and built twin bungalows in each of the plots (124 bungalows in a plot) and allocated them to different applicants.
“The ministry asked the company to pay for variation based on the alteration before the C of O could be processed and issued. This is to enable each mortgage applicant to have a title for their property. The C of O serves as collateral to our mortgage.
“But FIT Consult refused to pay for the variation as requested by the ministry. Instead, it chose to threaten and harass us and actually succeeded in cowering most of us into accepting impossible conditions to save our investments,” he said
“The foundation of the current challenge lies in the alterations, which were made in the survey master plan. We have already paid N120,000 each to the surveyor to produce a registered survey plan for us.
“These aside, we paid N130,000 processing fees to a bank, another N87,000 processing fees to AG Mortgage bank, N1,790,000 equity payment (20 per cent cost of the building) to FIT Consult and perfection fee of N716,000 to AG Homes”, he lamented.
The subscribers had therefore petitioned Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to intervene in their plight, stressing that most of them no longer have roofs over their heads after spending so much to get accommodation.
They have also written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to intervene and save their families, stressing that aside from the assaults meted on their families, their household property is still being beaten by the rain and sunshine at the estate.
In her response, the Managing Director, FIT Consult, Chief Lauretta Aniagolu, insisted that the affected occupants were “illegal occupants”, adding that they moved into buildings without paying for it.
She disclosed that all the transactions done at the estate followed due process, stressing there were no variations of any sort on the original plan of the estate as being claimed by the ejected occupants.
She said: “Even if they are planning to come by a mortgage, won’t the mortgage bank pay the developer before they can pack in? You don’t pack in until your mortgage is paid.
“Since they claimed they are paying through a mortgage; they should wait for the mortgage bank to pay before moving in. There were 18 people that applied for a mortgage but five insisted on moving in when the bank had not paid me.”