Housing project: NUJ demands refund of journalists’ money

President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, has given all parties involved in the Penjewel Estate housing project to refund the money they collected from subscribers within one month.

Those involved in the alleged fraudulent project are: Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) President Ifeyinwa Omowole, former Lagos NUJ Chairman Deji Elumoye, former NAWOJ Treasurer Tosin Odusola and the developer, Primewater View Company.

Isiguzo spoke at a meeting with stakeholders at Radio Lagos in Alausa, Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, where he made it clear that the parties deliberately took the subscribers for granted.

In 2015, journalists contributed funds in United States of America (U.S) dollars and naira, amounting to about N85 million, purportedly for counterpart funding for the construction of 800 units of three-bedroomed flats in part of their pre-owned lands at Abaren, Ogun State.

But the project was never delivered.

The NUJ President, who was accompanied by the union’s National Secretary Shaiubu Leman, said the project was designed to fail ab initio.

Reading the union’s position on the matter, after over four hours of deliberation, Isiguzo said N73 million was paid to the developer in instalments for a job not done, adding that a substantial sum was diverted to another project.

He said: “We observed that about N85 million was involved in the entire project – whether paid in dollar or naira. Of this, N73 million 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 N10 million, N45 million, N10 million and lastly N8 million, totalling N73 million.

“This totally violated the content of the agreement and clearly shows that from the onset, the project was designed to fail, as the 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 of the NUJ), 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 the NEC for it to decide the appropriate punishment to be meted out 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 could get to this level.

“It was clear that the foreign developer pulled out the project; that was the time the parties ought to have ended this transaction. The fact that they didn’t do this left so much to be desired.

“We want 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 the 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 Nation reports that all the parties involved in the illegality were present at the meeting except Elumoye, who was said to have asked for permission to be absent.

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