The laws of demand and supply were put to test when 33 individuals paid for five flats, believing no one else had paid.
Chaos descended on No 2 Ojumola street, Ajegunle, Lagos, when 33 individuals scrambled to take possession of five mini flats that they all paid for.
Trouble started to brew when some of the tenants noticed they were not the only ones who had paid for the flats when it was still under construction.
Abdulateef Ibrahim, the suspect who developed the property, allegedly collected rents totalling N6 million from 33 prospective tenants instead of five and thereafter disappeared, Saturday Sun reports.
The fastest among the tenants quickly moved in their things while other bought several padlocks and locked any room within reach.
The owner of the house, Alhaja Hafisat Ojumola, who claimed that she was not aware of the transaction, alerted the police when she discovered that the tenants battling to take possession of the apartments must have been defrauded by her contractor, Ibrahim. He was later traced to Abeokuta, Ogun State by operatives of Special Anti- Robbery Squad, Lagos police command, Ikeja.
When the compound was visited, all the flats were occupied.
When one of the tenants was asked how she managed to secure the rooms, she said that it took the intervention of her brother who is a soldier to secure a room. “It was not a joke but I thank God that we were victorious. In fact, no one will move me out of here, even when my rent expires”, she added.
Narrating their ordeal in the hands of Ibrahim, Ali Mudashiru, one of the sons of the owner of the house said 0that it took the intervention of the police to stop the angry mob of victims from tearing the house down. “The house was getting bad and all the tenants were asked to pack out. We do not have money to hire the services of developers, so we called our in-law, Ibrahim to assist since he is a builder. That was in June 2014. We knew that he builds houses for people. We agreed and gave him N450,000 to renovate the house.
“Sincerely, he gave account of every kobo that was spent by him. That was why, when he came back that we should bring another N500,000 I obliged him. He also spent that one but this time round did not give full account. My mother, Alhaja Hafisat Ojumola asked him to stop, when he came back again requesting for money. No one knew that he had gone ahead to put the house for rent.
“Two weeks after he was asked to stop, he came back and said that he had got money to continue the project. He said that the N500,000 extra that he borrowed will be enough to complete the house. We wanted the house to be put up for rent and was happy when he said that he had got money and would soon finish the project.
“We were shocked when tenants started coming to the house claiming that Ibrahim collected money from them. It got worse when they started fighting over who owns what. My mother could not bear the shame because it will appear that we conspired with Ibrahim. We tried to reach him but he switched off his phone. We knew that if nothing is done, these desperate tenants will tear down the house. We reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police and they tracked him down. As we speak, there are people living in the house forcefully”, he said.
On why they did not stop Ibrahim completely when tenants were coming around while the project was on, Mudashiru said: “We had hoped to rent it out one day, so we did not see anything wrong in allowing prospective tenants to come and have a look. How can anyone do business with a developer without asking for the true owner of the house? It is unfortunate and we thank God that he was caught after collecting about N6million from people.”
Pleading for mercy, the suspect, 42-year-old Ibrahim said he would refund the money if given three months grace. “I am willing to pay back the money if I am given at least three months. Please, do not expose me to the world”, he pleaded with one of our correspondents.
On how he intends to raise the money, Ibrahim claimed that he has other projects, which he intends to put up for rent. “I have other projects and people have started indicating interest before the police came and arrested me. It was not my fault that the property took a lot of money. I knew that the number of flats will not be enough that was why I started another project”, he stated.
According to Ibrahim, his mother-in-law saw him as a capable hand, hence he was hired to do the job. He continued: “The money they brought was not enough, so I had to borrow money. The area is swampy and the cost of renovating the house was not easy. I spoke to some agents that came to check the house. Normally, if a house is cheap, a lot of persons will indicate interest. In that area, apartments go for as much as N150,000 for two rooms.
To woo people, I told the agents to tell their clients that the house will go for N100,000. There was a mad rush and I had no choice but to collect as much as I could. It was the devil that took over and before I knew what was happening, I had collected about N6million from people. To tell you that it was the devil, I do not have a dime in my account. I cannot point at anything that I used the remaining money to do. If you go to my compound at No 4 Bello street, in Orile Iganmu, you will discover that I live in a room. I did not even use the money for my life. I am an Islamic cleric and I have prayed for a lot of people and granted them healing. Because I do not want to be dependent on the money from the mosque, I decided to learn a handiwork. I am terribly sorry. Please, forgive me.”
Confirming Ibrahim’s arrest as at press time, the state police spokesman, DSP Kenneth Nwosu said the suspect will soon be charged to court. He called on Nigerians to go an extra mile to confirm the authenticity of any transaction before payment is made.