Residents and landlords of Victory Park Estate, Lekki, Lagos State, have accused Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) of harassment over their properties despite pending cases in court and orders over scores of cases against AMCON and its receivermanager Mr. Lanre Olaoluwa.
Although plaintiffs had obtained injunctions against the respondents, AMCON and Olaoluwa appealed rulings on an estate which spanned almost 50 hectares and one of the gated communities in the Igbokushu area of Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1.
The residents are accusing AMCON anditsreceiver-managerof flagrantdisregard for law and order and illegal use of official powers over contentious land whichtheyclaimedtohavebeenbought from Grant Properties Ltd, a company promoted by late Rev Olajide Awosedo and his family and allegedly obtained relevant title documents.
They said in 2003, Grant Properties and Knight Rook approached some of them individually and offered them plots in the estate following which they invested their hard-earned money, savings; others obtained mortgage loans.
The residents said before paying, they carried out checks to ascertain that there were no caveats in the Lands Registry or the Corporate Affairs Commission. Assured that the coast was clear, they purchased their various plots legally from Grant Properties/Knight Rook, the only companies authorised to sell plots of land in the estate.
The homeowners said they found that at the time of purchasing the plots of land, Knight Rook’s title to the estate was free from any encumbrance as no mortgage, pledge or charge had been obtained against it by any financial institution or any other company.
The homeowners said from 2003 till June 2017, they continued to buy into the estate; some developed their properties and started living in the estate without harassment.
Theyalsoregisteredtheirtitles, obtained theconsentof theGovernorandpaidtheir LandUseChargeasandwhendue. Issues, however, arose when AMCON allegedly moved to recover alleged credit facilities granted to the late Awosedo, the chairman of Grant Properties Limited and Knight Rook Ltd, which executed the title documents to the property in the estate.
To the residents’ shock, sometime in June 2017, they woke up to a publication that Knight Rook, the owner of the global certificate of occupancy over Victory Park Estate was in receivership with other companies over a loan Grant Properties Ltd. allegedly took from Sterling Bank, Skye bank (now Polaris bank), Wema Bank and FCMB. Thesharesof KnightRookLtd. weresaid tohavebeenusedassecurityfortheloans.
The banks allegedly sold the unpaid loan as eligible bank assets to AMCON.
Accordingtotheresidents, following the steps taken to recover the outstanding indebtedness, the late Awosedo and other shareholders of Knight Rook purportedly transferred their shares to the nominees of the banks and resigned their positions as directors, thereby relinquishing their right to continue to act as such.
Theplaintiffsallegedthatdespitethe removal of the Awosedos from Knight Rook Ltd, an agreement was entered sometime in 2006 by the banks with Grant Properties Ltd to market and sell all the land in Victory Park Estate and remit proceeds to the banks.
Theresidentssaid itwasvery puzzling that from 2006 until AMCON’s publicationof putting thecompaniesinreceivershipin2017, membersof thepublicwere made to believe that the Awosedos were executing the banks’ instructions.
AMCON appointed Olaoluwa as receiver/manager to take over the assets of Knight Rook Ltd and its parent company, Grant Properties Ltd. The receiver/manager obtained an ex-parte order in a suit numbered FHC/ AB/CS/69/16.
The order granted him the power to dispose or take possession of several properties in the estate, pending the conclusion of the debt recovery proceedings against Knight Rook Ltd and Grant Properties Ltd.
The residents alleged that under the guise of performing his functions, the receiver/manager had continued to make life unbearable for them as AMCON and Olaoluwa were not only taking over unoccupied and undeveloped properties, but the ones in occupation, with residents allegedly being forced out with thugs and the police.
Theyplaintiffssaidmanyof theplots targeted by AMCON were already sold to third parties before the takeover by the banks and the eventual transfer of the assets to AMCON.
To them, these properties would not form part of the assets of Knight Rook Ltd which AMCON was laying claims to all the land in Victory Park Estate, whether already sold and developed.
This, residents and homeowners said the agency had allegedly continued to harass innocent bonafide purchasers for value without notice of their interest, thereby bringing untold hardship, anguish and pain to them.
The residents said they tried unsuccessfully to explain the situation to the receiver/manager, with several meetingsheldinabidtoestablishownership. The Victory Park Homeowners and Residents Association met with both AMCON and the receiver/manager in a bid to amicably resolve the issue. Effort to settle out of court failed.
The residents accused Olaoluwa of employing “despicable methods” to dislodge people from their properties, even allegedly selling to third parties and preventing the legal owners from building and accessing their properties.