The Rich Also Cry: The 1004 Housing Estate Experience – By Babs Dara

The crisis rocking upscale residential estate, the 1004 Estates, Victoria Island, Lagos, has taken a new dimension with the sack Maintenance Committee led by Mr. Tayo Soetan. The committee had the responsibility of maintaining facilities on the estate.

At a meeting held at the 1004 Estates Cluster Club House, residents said the sack of the Maintenance Committee, also know as House Owners and Residents Association (HORA), was inevitable because it failed to deliver value.

In Jan 2016, Mr. Soetan led a team of armed security operatives to take over the electricity and water supply operation in the Estate. Soetan also claimed the association won suit No LD/3744/2014 filed by 1004 Estates Limited against The Incorporated Trustees of 1004 HORA at the Lagos High Court. He said the ruling delivered by Justice Dawodu on December 2, last year recognised the association as duly constituted and ordered 1004 Estates Limited to render accounts of money collected to the association.

Based on the ruling, he said the association was at liberty to appoint a facility firm for the estate and determine its fate. But a certified copy of the ruling obtained by our correspondent showed that the association was indeed recognised by the court based on the relief sought by 1004 Estates Limited as to whether it was the same association it envisaged in the sub-lease contractual agreement it signed with residents.

The court went ahead to also rule that since the firm had been relating with the association, it would not be out of place to render accounts of its stewardship, especially on service charges collected from residents.

The ruling went ahead to affirm that 1004 Estate Limited is vested with the “management and administration of the Estate”. It then said:  “The defendant (HORA) is at liberty to give suggestions and advice on management of the estate and there should be corresponding understanding between the residents and management of the estate.”

Mr. Tayo Soetan claimed that the N 450,000 annual service charge proposed by Samuel Ukpong led 1004 Estates Limited was exorbitant. He also claimed that energy tariff of N 70/KWH was also a rip off. Our investigations revealed that after Mr. Soetan assumed management of the Estate, he increased the service charge to N 581,000 annually and also arbitrarily increased energy tariff to N 100/kWH without providing adequate accounts to HORA members who he claimed to be representing.

Another major reason given for the sack of the committee, headed by Mr. Tayo Soetan, is the squalid state of infrastructure on the estate. Mr. Soetan was sacked along with other members of the committee that included Mr. Ochuko Akposibure, the Vice Chairman; Mrs. Sade Babatunde, Mr. Ehiosu Oviawe and Mrs. Femi Romiluyi. Underneath this was a variety of allegations of misconduct and incompetence, including lack of transparency and accountability, arbitrariness in the increase in power tariff, failure to guarantee adequate water supply and non- provision of befitting children’s playground.

At the meeting, the disenchanted residents who claimed their property values have been eroded also sacked IG4 Power Limited, an electricity firm that supplied power to the 1004 Estates. They claimed the company’s tariff of N100 per kilowatt was too high. The company, they also alleged, is owned by one Mr. Owumi Ikomi, a tenant on the estate.

The meeting, co-chaired by Mr. Soetan, also resolved to dissolve the 1004 Estates Board Of Trust (BOT) headed by Chief Dele Ogedengbe. It directed members of the Board to immediately vacate office. The residents replaced the sacked Management Committee with an eight-member caretaker committee, which will be in office for 60 days pending the constitution of a new Management Committee.

A January 2016 Lagos High Court order returned the management of the Estate to 1004 Estates Limited. But the order was disobeyed by the ousted Management Committee, with one of the outcomes being the poor supply of electricity to the estate by IG4 Power Limited.

An overwhelming majority of the residents at the meeting insisted the estate was better managed under 1004 Estate Limited before the takeover by the sacked Management Committee.

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