Some property owners in Efab Estate, Lokogoma District of the FCT, Abuja, have accused officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) of conniving with the developer of the estate to fraudulently sell houses to them.
The Efab Estate in Lokogoma recently came to limelight after series of flooding led to the destruction of houses and valuables, including the death of a teenager.
While some affected property owners have resorted to squatting with relatives, others have vacated the estate to press on the developer and the FCTA for compensation.
The FCTA recently asked residents of Lokogoma District whose buildings are along waterways to vacate the areas, saying the buildings were the cause of perennial flooding in the area.
The administration said most of the buildings were built without approval and that the owners were given allocations by it (FCTA) on where to build, but that they left the original allocations and built on waterways.
When Daily Trust visited the Efab Estate, those affected by the persistent flooding and may lose their property to the imminent demolition by the development control department of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), criticised the FCT authorities for doing nothing when the houses were being built by the developer.
The victims said they were not comfortable with the plan by the FCTA to demolish the structures before compensating them.
Daily Trust reports that in the Efab Estate, most of the houses near the major waterway get flooded whenever it rains. At least three major floods occurred between June 6, 26 and July 25, 2019, which led to destruction of property worth millions of naira and the death of a 17-year-old boy.
Daily Trust observed a narrow stream within the estate that is not properly channeled and usually fills up whenever it rains thereby flooding houses along the waterway and environs.
One of the affected residents, Hameed Abdul, said he bought and moved into his apartment in the estate in 2010, but that in August, 2011, the first major flood occurred in the area.
Abdul said, “It flooded my house and fell the fence and did a lot of damage. Thank God, a friend who lived in my boys’ quarters travelled just a day earlier because the major debris fell directly on his bed in the early hours of the morning.”
Since then, he said, the estate always witnessed flooding two to three times yearly.
Abdul further said, “We had a gentleman agreement with Chief Fabian Nwora, the Chairman of Efab Properties, that they would relocate us. Secondly, that they would compensate us for the losses; even if not completely. We warned him (the developer) that if they didn’t build a canal here the flooding would continue. That wasn’t done, they only temporarily excavated the sand out of the stream. They did that for about two to three years.”
Explaining further, he said the developer did not execute the agreement it reached with the residents’ association.
He said after the June 26 incident, the residents’ association met with the developer and the FCTA and that the FCTA concluded that the owners did not have approval for the buildings.
“We told him (Efab Properties) at the meeting that we have reasons to believe that he fraudulently sold us houses.
“Efab told us that he had all his approvals from FCDA, Development Control and Mass Housing and that it was not his fault so he was not going to compensate us.
“We have been accusing government for not doing their job of properly supervising these people (the developers). From the words of the developer, it absolutely shows there is a rumoured corruption in the FCTA because these developers always flash the numbers of high people in government; telling you that they are talking to them, so as to intimidate you,” he said.
“We have over 40 estates in Lokogoma, and today the administration is saying that all the estates were built without approval. We ask, how is that possible? Where were these agencies and what were they doing when these houses were being built?”
The Chairman of Residents’ Association Efab Estate, Lokogoma, Mr. Bill Obot, said a meeting of the larger Lokogoma with the FCTA permanent secretary was held after the June flooding and that agreements were reached.
Mr. Obot said “One, they will expand the channel. Two, demolition and then compensation.
“Any civilised nation will be talking about taking care of the individuals involved first.”
He said demolition of the houses was not the solution to the perennial flooding in the area.
“There are other engineering solutions which can be used to solve this problem. Government should look at channeling water in the estate properly,” he added.
The Chairman of the Efab Lokogoma Landlords’ Forum, Alhaji Shettima Gana, said more than 38 houses were affected by the July 25, flooding.
One of the residents, Ikechukwu Anthony, said the recent flood was more intense than the one that occurred in June.
Anthony said, “I saw a freezer being washed away like a bucket, gates were entirely removed, fences caved in easily and some property were removed from the houses by the water. It was massive, I have never seen anything like that in my life.”
An eyewitness during the flooding which occurred on Thursday, July 25, Comfort Olaniyan, said more than seven three-bedroom bungalows were submerged.
Another resident who simply identified himself as Victor said some academic certificates were submerged in the water that flooded the self-contain boys’ quarters’ apartment he resided in on Second Avenue in the estate.
When contacted, the Chairman of Efab Properties, Chief Fabian Nwora, said he was not bothered by complaints by the affected residents for compensation.
Chief Nwora said, “Let them complain and put it in CNN, I don’t want to know. That is not my business; don’t bother me with that story.”
When asked further about the position of the developer concerning compensation of the affected off-takers, he said the flood was a natural disaster and that there was nothing he could do about it.
“Flooding is all over the world, even the FCT airport was flooded,” he said, adding that whatever would be done in the estate was the responsibility of the FCDA.
The Director, Development Control, Muktar Galadima, said the position of the authority was that it would compensate those affected by the flood whose property were built in line with what was approved.
Galadima said, “What we are saying is that if you have approval, present it to us. Our officers will go and value it (property) and then we will look at that approval; whether you built in line with what we approved.
He said compensation was based on valid title document, valid building plan approval and whether the development was based on what was approved.
He added that those whose buildings fell against this criteria were unfortunate and would not be compensated.