Saraha Estate: Between facts and fiction



Rogers Edor Ochela

It is quite unfortunate that over the years, Nigerians have cultivated the uncanny habit of promoting impunity, sometimes, to alarming heights. Flowing from this reality, the difference between right and wrong has become blurred so much so that if you insist that things be done in the proper way, you are likely to given the look reserved for museum artifacts, probably thinking that you may have come from another planet.
It is through this prism that one should view the hues and cries that trailed the pulling down of Winning Clause Estate (illegally referred to as Saraha Homes) located at Plot 67, Kafe District recently by the FCDA and the unnecessary hurling of invectives at the FCT Minister, SenatorBalaAbdulkadir Mohammed, just because he insisted on keeping fidelity with Abuja Master Plan.

The questionis: why the unnecessary fuss over the demolition of an illegal estate, as if it is the first time such estate that has breached the laws of the land with reckless impunity would be pulled down. This was the case Saraha Estate that was recently pulled down by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).The CEO, Saraha Homes AlhajiKabiruHaruna, who is the estate developer, was economical with the truth that changes in the FCTA led to the revocation of initial approvals. The truth is that Plot 67 was originally allocated to Pro Form Nigeria Ltd but the company failed to deliver resulting in the revocation of its allocation. The plot was subsequently re-allocated to Winning Clause Nigeria Ltd. ButAlhajiKabiruHaruna of Saraha Homes Ltd trespassed the plot and started illegal partitioning and sale of various sizes of land without authorizationby FCTA.

When the authorities discovered the illegality, the Development Control Department of the FCTA moved in and appropriately marked the emerging structures as illegal for removal with ‘Stop Work’ warnings boldly pasted. But the directives were defied by Saraha Homes, which devised a strategy of selling lands in the plot to unsuspecting officials with the hope that when the bubble bursts, they would use their powerful positions to muscle the FCTA into legalizing the illegality.
The result of that stratagem by Saraha is the on-going threats, intimidation, blackmail and unfounded media propaganda against Winning Clause, the lawful owner of Plot 67, the FCTA and the Minister of FCT.

Expectedly, the current brouhaha triggers some fundamental questions to wit: Was Saraha ever allocated Plot 67 Kafe District? Is Saraha the same company as Pro Form? Is Saraha owner, AlhajiKabiruHaruna, also the owner of Pro Form? Where is the original allocation paper in respect of Plot 67 to Saraha Homes, if any? Where is the building plan approval from the Development Control Department of FCTA? Do they have any legally binding document of lease or sale agreement transferring the ownership of Plot 67 by the original allottee, Pro Form to Saraha?
If the managers of Saraha could provide convincing answers to the above pertinent questions, then Nigerians will know that FCDA has erred in demolishing the estate. But since Saraha did not have any valid allocation or approved building plan in respect of Plot 67, what it did was a clear case of trespass of the worst order.

And instead of some of the allottees/residents to appeal to the authorities to rescue them from the Sahara mess, they are pointing accusing fingers at the FCT Administration and the Minister by claiming that there was an attempt to deprive them of their lawful plots and houses. However, the blame lies squarely on Saraha Homes and its collaborators, among them some residents.
However, the matter later went to court and precisely on November 28, 2013, there was a consent judgment following a mutual agreement between the residents, the Winning Clause and the trespasser, Saraha Homes. The judgment recognized Winning Clause as the lawful owner of Plot 67.

After the judgment, the allottees were supposed to have taken necessary steps to reconcile their papers with Winning Clause, the lawful owners by remitting all outstanding payments to it and also work together with Saraha Homes to ensure that all monies unlawfully paid to Saraha Homes were transferred to Winning Clause. But most of the residents did not cooperate with Winning Clause.

The point must be stressed that as at the time the demolition took place in the estate, the matter was not in court as the judgment of November 2013 had not been challenged or set aside.
However, after the removal of some illegal structures at the estate, there was an interlocutory injunction obtained by residents and it is on the basis of the administration’s respect for rule of law that it is withholding further activities as per removal of the illegal structures on the plot.

Ochela, a media consultant based in Abuja, is reachable via [email protected]

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