From Gambo Ahmed, Lafia
Some beneficiaries of the Nasarawa State 500 Housing Units along Lafia-Doma Road in Lafia local government area of the state have threatened to sue Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) over discrepancies in the payment of the mortgages for the houses.
The beneficiaries under the aegis of Association of Occupants of 500 Housing Units made their position known in an interview with our correspondent in Lafia yesterday.
Investigation by our correspondent has it that the 500 housing units is an initiative of the Nasarawa State government in partnership with a property developer, Chipa Nigeria Limited for the construction of affordable housing for people of the state with priority to civil and public servants.
It was learnt that in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties of the housing initiative are to be mortgaged at N2.9 million for two bedroom and N4 million for three bedroom semi detached houses payable for a period of up to 25 years through monthly deductions from salaries of beneficiaries.
The MoU for the construction of the houses was signed in July, 2008 by both parties and upon completion and inauguration of the project, houses were disbursed to beneficiaries on the agreed terms and conditions.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr. Elias Kigbu, Secretary of the Group and one of the beneficiaries, Mr. Mohammed Noma said that despite the agreement reached years back, officials of FMBN recently brought a new price and payment template for implementation by the Nasarawa State government.
He explained that based on the new price template, 3 bedroom semi detached houses was now to be sold at N9 million each and the 2 bedroom semi detached house will now be sold for N5 million each thereby inflating the monthly payment template of beneficiaries.
Kigbu added that the recent hike in the price of the houses as against what was stipulated in the earlier agreement and without consultation of beneficiaries was in bad faith and should be reversed to avoid legal action.
He said the beneficiaries held a meeting recently on the matter and decided to take legal action if all diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the matter including an appeal to the state government to intercede on their behalf.
According to him, “investigation deeply conducted on the issue and found out that Chipa had sourced for funds from FMBN to carry out the project but the agreement reached, signed and sealed is only between Nasarawa State government and Chipa. So FMBN cannot now decide to inflate the price and payment template because they were not part of the agreement even though they provided the funds. Whatever the situation, FMBN is supposed to liaise with Chipa whom they gave financial obligation. The document on the project is clear.”
He continued, “That is why we are appealing to the Nasarawa State government to wade into this matter so we can resolve it amicably. The money deducted from our salaries was not above N20,000 in the past but now some of us are made to pay as much as N80,000 to over N100,000.
Responding on the matter, Mrs. Hilda Odiachi, FMBN Nasarawa State Branch Head said she was aware of the current situation but could not speak further on the matter without clearance from her head office.