Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Agent pockets N18m from 90 accommodation seekers

House where 90 accommodation seekers hope to liveThere’s fraud everywhere even among those who are not holding public offices. Whether you’re in Lagos or any urban area looking for an apartment to rent, you could be locked in the hands of rental scam tricksters.

No fewer than 90 prospective tenants have become victims of rental fraud allegedly orchestrated by one Alhaji Lateef Ajayinka in Egbe area of Lagos. The victims were said to have paid different sums of money totalling about N18million to Alhaji Ajayinka at different times to rent units of flats which was then under construction.

The victims were shown around the yet-to-be-completed house with a promise to complete it in a few days but it turned out to be another mind-boggling scam three months after with 90 people loosing over N18million.

The 8-flat building is located at No, 23 Opeloyeru street, off Liasu road, Ileiwe, Egbe, Lagos.

Ajayinka pulled a sneaky trick on his prey by suddenly completing the house overnight and called nine other accomodation seekers to move into the house immediately at odd hours. Alas, the  few tenants obliged and occupied the eight flats and one self-contain apartments overnight.

This unscrupulous act became opened as many of the victims who have been waiting for the completion of the house and collection of keys as promised by Ajayinka now got wind of the development and immediately stormed the house. It was then they realised that a multitude of prospective tenants have paid to occupy the same house as more  people trooped in complaining they also paid for the house.

At that point, Ajayinka was nowhere to be found as victims lamented that all failed attempts to get him.  Hourse later, Saturday Vanguard learnt that the suspect has been arrested by the police  and being  detained at the Police Command, Headquaters, Ikeja. Sources further disclosed that one Supol Opara in handling the case.  Attempt to reach Supol Opara proved abortive as his number was switched off.

According to one of the victims, Amos Oyodeji of Vanguard newspapers who paid for a self-contained apartment: “We have been duped. Unknown to all of us, he collected money from over 90 people promising to give them the same house.  I paid N250,000 to Ajayinka since October 2012, for a self-contained apartment, waiting for the completion of the house. I have been monitoring the progress of work on the building. I was there on Wednesday February 27 at about 5pm, the doors and burglar-proofs were yet to be fixed and he again promised that I should come for my keys on Saturday March 2. I left with the hope that I will move in a few days. But strangely, the following morning February 28, while my wife was driving through that road to work, she discovered that people were gathered there and she decided to find out what was going on. We discovered that people have moved into the house while other victims gathered discussing the scam. Not only that the doors were now fixed but also have burglar-proofs and every other thing done. It is strange and very surprising that they worked to that extent overnight.” he said.

Mr Ayodeji stated that the number of the victims might even rise as more and more people later went to the police to complain.  “When the issue got to the police, we never knew the number was up to 90 until some people came with proofs of payment to Ajayinka. As at today, the number of those Ajayinka collected money from is 90 and no one knows whether it will increase as more people might come with a proof of payment.”

Another victim, Mr Ogunleye who spoke to Saturday Vanguard said he paid N350,000 to Ajayinka for a 2-bedroom flat and discovered to his chagrin that another person had moved into the house he paid for. “I paid N200,000 a year rent and additional N150,000 for Agreement and Commission.  I was not the only one involved, there are some people who said they paid as much as N3million, N2million and N1million too.”

In the same vein, Emmanuel Iduagba, a businessman also claimed he  paid N3million to Ajayinka for three flats.  Iduagba while speaking with Saturday Vanguard explained that he intended to use the three flats as a guest house and he was promised that the flats would be ready in January. He further stated that until that day when the scam was discovered, Ajayinka did not skip the scene.  “He was always there and giving excuses that the house will be completed soon, not knowing that he had collected money from several others.”

The owner of the house could not be reached but according to a source in the area,  the house is owned by an aged woman in her late 70s.  Sources hinted the aged landlady might not be privy to Alhaji Ajayinka’s intent, adding that as a result of her age and health condition, she contracted the house to Alhaji Ajayinka.

One of the victims who went to the police Command Headquaters, Ikeja confirmed that he saw him but the police refused anybody to take photographs, adding that they were assured that investigation would reveal how many people he had actually collected money from  which will give a lead on how the matter will be settled.  Another victim however disclosed that the suspect had confirmed he took money from them and that he was ready to return the sum of N900,000 from the money collected.

Even as the police are trying to get to the root of the matter, some of the victims are already spoiling for a showdown with the current occupiers of the house laying claims to the house.

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