The President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Chief Chris Isiguzo on Monday gave all parties involved in the failed Penjewel Estate housing project ultimatum to refund the money collected from subscribers within one month.
Those involved in the alleged fraudulent project are President Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Ifeyinwa Omowole, former Chairman Lagos State Council of NUJ, Deji Elumoye, former NAWOJ Treasurer Tosin Odusola and the developer Primewater View Company.
Isiguzo spoke at a meeting with all stakeholders held at Radio Lagos in Alausa, Lagos, where he clearly stated that the parties deliberately took subscribers for granted.
Journalists in 2015 contributed money in United States of America dollars and naira running into about N85million purportedly for counterpart funding for the provision of 800 units of three-bedroom flats in part of their pre-owned lands at Abaren, Ogun State, which was never delivered.
The President who attended the meeting with the union’s National Secretary Shaiubu Numan said the project was designed to fail ab-initio.
Reading the NUJ’s position on the issue after over four hours of deliberation, Isiguzo said N73million was paid to the developer in instalments for a job not done, adding that substantial sum was diverted to another project.
“We observed that about N85million was involved in the entire project whether paid in dollar or naira. Of this, N73million was paid out to the developer, Primewater View Company. We also observed that a substantial sum was diverted to another project.
“We were also able to establish that the subscribers were not properly informed and the purported agreement signed by the parties was defective ab initio. We discovered that money was paid to the developer in instalments from N10million, N45million, N10million and lastly N8million totalling N73million.
“This totally violated the content of the agreement and clearly shows that from the onset, the project was designed to fail as subscribers were deliberately taken for granted.
“Accordingly, we want to call on all the parties involved in this illegal transaction to quickly terminate the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they signed. As earlier directed by the National Executive Council (NEC), the amounts paid out should be returned and given back to their original owners, the subscribers.
“The NUJ Lagos Council and the leadership of NAWOJ should quickly liaise with the developer and bring back the money paid. Clearly, money was paid for jobs not executed.
“On the issue of Lagos NUJ and NAWOJ members involved in this charade, we shall revert to NEC for it to decide the appropriate punishment to be meted to them.
“As recommended earlier by both the Lagos NUJ land committee and the NEC elders committee, we are asking the parties to do the needful within the next one month because it is so sad that leaders will get to this level.
“It was clear that the foreign developer pulled out the project; that was the time parties ought to have ended this transaction. The fact that they didn’t do this left so much to be desired.
“We want on to also caution that henceforth, any council that wishes to go into any project must do that in strict liaison with the national leadership of NUJ.
“Failure of the leadership of Lagos Council to do the needful has led us to this decrepit level we all find ourselves. We want to appeal to subscribers that since we have now come here and discussed, let all hostilities stop so that we wait for the parties to do as directed.”
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, on Monday in Lagos called for legal termination of a stalled housing project for journalists in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists/NUJ in 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build 800 housing units for journalists at Abaren Village in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State.
However, the agreement incorporated the NUJ, which mapped out a portion of land sold to its members for the estate to be constructed by Primewaterview Limited.
Isiguzo during a stakeholders meeting with subscribers, developer and members of NUJ and NAWOJ, said the project was marred by irregularities as all parties in the project erred.
The NUJ president after about four hours deliberation ruled that the project from inception was not properly planned.
He said: “Accordingly, we want to call on all the parties involved in this transaction to quickly terminate the Memorandum of Understanding they signed. “As earlier directed by NEC, the amount paid out should be returned to the union and given back to their original owners, the subscribers.
“The NUJ Lagos State Council and the leadership of NAWOJ should quickly liaise with the developer and retrieve the said amount.
“Clearly, monies paid for jobs not executed.”
The president, however, added that NEC was going to decide on measures to be taken against NUJ and NAWOJ executive members, insisting that termination of the agreement should be effected within a month.
“We are asking the parties to do the needful before the end of the month,” Isiguzo said.
Earlier, the NUJ president advised the Managing Director of PWV, who simply identified himself as Deacon Alabi, to work out modalities for a refund of N73 million.
The president said right from the beginning, the agreement was breached and Prime water View was culpable.
Alabi had explained that the project was stalled by lack of funding.
While taking questions from stakeholders, Alabi said the firm had completed various large projects in Lagos and had the expertise to have completed the project.
He said the roads leading to the site of the housing estate was waterlogged and part of the funds was used to stabilise the road to gain access to the site, which was 3km away.
“The arrangement we had was that they (NAWOJ/NUJ) had a lot of members and would pay, that is why we went to the site to begin construction.”
Also, Ifeyinwa Omowole, NAWOJ President, while making her presentation explained that there were some hitches because state officials of the NAWOJ flouted her order to ensure subscribers paid directly to the bank.
Omowole said the then NAWOJ Lagos Chairperson, Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu, collected Dollar payment in cash and about $26,000 became problematic as banks rejected same over the year of the currency and denomination.
“The money was collected in cash against my advice,” she said.
Omowole also lamented various infractions by state officers of NAWOJ that caused some problems and delays to the project.