Shelter is in the league of food and clothing, a basic human need. So, when the co-operative society of telecommunication giant, MTN Employees Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited (MEMCOS) came up with the idea of having an estate for their members in posh part of Lagos State, Lekki, the hearts of about two thousand staff who subscribed to it were warmed.
Their hearts leaped when the developer, Trioteknix Limited and the co-operative’s executives secured an estate development loan from Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to the tune of N1, 582,278,208.00 (One Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty Two Million, Two Hundred and Seventy Eight Thousand, Two Hundred and Eight Naira) for the construction of 284 housing units, which is the phase one of the project.
May 12, 2012 further brought glad tidings as N487, 315,955.00 (Four Hundred and Eighty Seven Million, Three Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, and Nine Hundred and Fifty Five Naira) was disbursed by FMBN to the developer and the co-operative’s EXCO as the first tranche of the over One Billion Naira loan on that day.
However, things began to go wrong in September last year when teams of project assessors from the FMBN visited the project site and were surprised by the level of works on the ground, and kicked out seriously.
The Federal Mortgage Bank’s monitoring report, a copy, which was sent to orijoreporter revealed that as at September 2012 when the agency’s staff went to the construction site in Lekki the value of works done was put at N13,341,960.00 ( Thirteen Million, Three Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty Naira.
A far cry from about N500 million they first offered the contractor and EXCO, FMBN expressed their disapproval and threatened that they won’t pay them furthermore until further jobs that measure against the money they gave them were done.
Though FMBN’s door was closed to the contractor, Trioteknix Limited and the EXCO, Enterprise Bank later opened its own door, when it gave N900 million loan for the estate construction at 22 percent interest rate to them.
Investigation revealed that it was under the first EXCO of MTN Employees Multipurpose Co-operative Society Limited that the idea of the estate project was moved but its tenure lapsed before actions were taken.
However, the actions of its successor were so fraught with problems that the whole project was turning into a Ponzi scheme and was later abandoned. Tempers flared over the matter to the point that the subscribers pressured the EXCO to return their own equity participations which run into several millions of naira.
The pressure yielded fruits when the EXCO President Mrs. Fehintola Mustapha emailed all the subscribers of the estate, and in the letter claimed that the reason the EXCO and the contractor backed out from the FMBN’s loan deal was that they paid 10% of the total loan amount, among other cash gifts as Public Relations to officials of FMBN. This she said “made the loan much more expensive than commercial bank loans.”
It was not music to most of the subscribers’ ears including some EXCO. The financial secretary of the association, Zephaniah Isie in protest of the Enterprise Bank’s loan, which did not get the EXCO’s approval turned in his resignation letter. So also the Social Secretary, Vivian Igheghe.
Zephaniah Isie and Mrs. Igheghe’s other excuse was that the Enterprise Bank’s 22% interest rate on the N900m was too much on the high side, and that of the FMBN was supposed to be offered between 6 percent and 10 percent.
In Mrs. Ighehe’s resignation letter which she sent to the EXCO members through email she accused the President of forming a clique and acting undemocratically.
Sources told orijoreporter that a group, named Concerned Subscribers of Yellow Estate have petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the activities of the EXCO and the developer.
The group accused the developer, Trioteknix Limited, and the CEO of the company, Mr. Oyedeji Afolabi, the President of the EXCO, Mrs. Mustapha and some other members of financial misappropriation, and outright stealing.
The petition reads in part “It is obvious that the first loan of N487m has been fraudulently converted, misappropriated and stolen by the developer, the president, and some EXCO members.
“And so the need for a thorough investigation of this transaction, so as to expose the truth, and to protect the banking sector, especially the FMBN and the innocent and hepless subscribers of the Yellow Estate Project who are now at risk of losing their investments.”
When our correspondent spoke to the anti-graft agency’s spokesman Wilson Uwujaren he confirmed the petition adding that “EFCC has started investigation.”