In July 2021, 142 persons woke up to the rude shock of being scammed after making rent payments for the 12 apartments at 5 Aiyedun street, Olowora in Lagos.
Justina Ezechi (not real name) made payments for a self-contained apartment in the said compound, thinking her ordeal in securing a suitable place she could call shelter had come to an end. Prior to making the payment, her entire family members have had to make do with squatting with friends and Good Samaritans all around Lagos.
“After several months of not being able to secure a suitable apartment for my family, someone introduced me to Engr. Ahmed Ayinde, a developer in the Olowora area of Berger. After explaining my ordeal to the engineer, he took me to the house (5 Aiyedun Street). The house was still under construction then but he assured me that they would be done in a matter of weeks.” said Ezechi.
“I visited the place three more times and was impressed with the progress they had made. Afterwards, the builder introduced Alhaji Ibrahim Ayinde to me as the landlord and advised me to quickly make payment to him while there was still an opportunity. I was told to make a total payment of N290,000 for the apartment.”
Encouraged by the progress made, Ezechi paid N250,000 to Alhaji Ibrahim Ayinde on May 19, with a promise to make a balance payment of N40,000 when her family was ready to move in. After receiving the payment, Ibrahim Ayinde equally issued a receipt to her.
However, she became apprehensive when the construction was still not completed at the end of May. She decided to engage Ibrahim Ayinde but was told to exercise a little more patience. At this point, construction was still ongoing, but it was now at a slow pace. Eventually, it was promised that completion would not exceed the end of June.
By the end of June, things took a dramatic turn.
“When I discovered that the construction was still not ready at the end of June, I lost patience and requested that the Alhaji pay me back my money. I told him that I really needed to secure a new apartment so that my family could reunite and get to live under the same roof. He however appealed for calm and told me to call him by the first week in July so he could tell me when to move in,” Ezechi further said.
She made several calls to Alhaji after the first week in July as agreed but they were never answered. She then decided to visit the house and was able to meet with Engr. Ahmed Ayinde. After expressing her displeasure to the builder about the slow progress being made, he apologized and told her that they were almost done with the construction. He also told her that her moving in was now just a matter of days away.
Unfortunately, Ezechi became ill and could no longer monitor the progress being made on the house for a while. When she recovered, she visited the house on July 22 but met a crowd at the gate.
“I was shocked to meet a crowd gathered in front of the house. A few policemen were also there. When I demanded to know what was going on, I was made to understand that both the landlord and engineer had collected money from everybody present. When I counted them, they were more than 50. I immediately developed a fever a second time and was hospitalized,” Ezechi explained.
At this point, the landlord and builder could no longer be reached on their phone lines.
As soon as she got discharged from the hospital, Ezechi was informed the case was being handled at Isheri Police Station and quickly went there.
At the police station, it was gathered that the builder and the landlord had collected money from 142 people as rent for the 12 apartments in the building. The Police subsequently initiated a manhunt for both the builder and the landlord and when he could no longer handle the heat, Engr. Ahmed Ayinde turned himself in at the Police Area Command at Ojuelegba. During their investigation, the Police discovered that the house did not belong to Alhaji Ibrahim Ayinde but his extended family known as the Alhaji A. Ayinde Family.
“The case has now been transferred to the Area C Command in Ojuelegba where the builder is currently being held. The IPO in charge of the case is Inspector Barnabas,” Ezechi added.
However, Alhaji Ibrahim Ayinde is still at large.
The aggrieved tenants later resolved to form a union and wrote a letter to the Lagos State House of Assembly for its intervention on the matter. They are also making attempts at making their grievance known to the Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor.
FIJ made attempts to reach Inspector Barnabas, the IPO in charge of the case for comment, but his number was not available as of the time of filing this report.
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