Sunday, October 25, 2020

HORA describes alleged N8bn misappropriation as false

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1004 estate in Victoria Island, Lagos

…Threatens to sue opposition to the court

By Evelyn Usman

The Board of Trustees, BOT and Executive Committee members of the 1004 Estate Home Owners and Residents Association, HORA, in Victoria Island Lagos, have described as false, an allegation of N8 billion financial impropriety against HORA, threatening to sue those peddling the claims.

Its reaction followed a video clip which went viral on social media, on alleged mismanagement of the estate built
over 40 years ago and a recent press conference held by officials of the 1004 Estate Community Development Association, on allegations bordering on financial impropriety against HORA officials.

HORA, in a statement signed by its legal adviser, Barrister Femi Gbenle, said claims in the video did not reflect the true state of the estate.

The statement read: “We state unequivocally that there is no N8billion or any other falsely quoted sum in 1004 Estates that have been mismanaged or misappropriated. The key purveyors of these false claims are well known in the Estate for several infractions which include non-payment of rent service charge and theft of electricity.”

“Having been sanctioned for these infractions (consistent with the Estate bye-laws) and curbed by our current press conference and the attendant public outcry, they have resorted to outright lies and half-truths via social media and negative press to divert attention from their illegal activities.”

Describing members of the BoT, HORA executives and members of various committees as professionals who volunteered to serve the Estate pro bono the statement said: “Anyone with the contrary claim, should not stop at making cheap mobile videos but publish their evidence.”

Giving an account of how services in the Estate are run from the service charges collected yearly, the BoT explained that the budgeted service charge for the year 2020 was N626,000 per flat and N546,000, for 2029.

The statement further explained that ” as of September 20, 2020 collection rate for the full 2019 service charge was 85 per cent. For the year 2020, only 40% of the apartment in the Estate has fully paid while 45 per cent have paid half as at the same date.”
It further stated that management of the Estate provided “a suite of services, using professional service providers which include 24 -hour power supply, water treatment and supply, security, cleaning and gardening, waste (including sewage) collection and disposal, elevators, clubhouses, maintenance of common areas and recreational facilities.

” The 1004 Estate has 1074 apartments and an average collection rate annually is between 60 per cent and 70 per cent”.
It stated that In the last five years, the average service charge stood at about N500,000 with the contention that since 2015 when 1004 HORA took over management of the Estate, it is only this year that charges would amount to over N600,000.

On the issue of electricity, the BoT pointed out that some residents rather than pay for their electricity bill “would prefer to steal power by bypassing their meters. A forensic audit of our power account showed that over 40 per cent of residents in the Estate was involved in power theft.”

“This organised power theft was so prevalent that it brought the power infrastructure to the brink of collapse as receivables could no longer sustain power delivery to due-paying residents. At a point, the deficit from power theft was over N185million and rising.

” These power theft and illegal connections apart from the financial impact, also pose a danger of fire to the Estate. Regrettably, the firm stance of 1004 HORA under the chairmanship of Barr. Lara Ademola in fighting these criminal acts has attracted extreme hostility and propaganda against her, other HORA officials, Home Owners and the BoT by these perpetrators.”

On structural integrity and outlook of the buildings in the Estate, the BoT stated that “some concerns had been raised by residents and well-meaning members of the public on the structural integrity of our buildings. To address these concerns, a firm of structural engineers was engaged to carry out an integrity audit of the buildings and their expert assessment reassured of the structural integrity of the buildings. They also affirmed that there is no impending danger of collapse of the structures.”

However, not oblivious of the facade of the buildings and the need to improve on this, the BoT said: “it is important to note that when the apartments were sold, it was mandatory for each buyer/homeowner to pay N300,000 as Asset Replacement Fund to be pooled for capital development and refurbishment of the Estate.”

“The funds totalled about N322million at the time, but the then facility managers with whom these funds were domiciled, failed to release the funds when the management of the Estate was taken over by 1004 HORA. We are currently in court with the company to recover the money with accrued interest believed now to be in the region of N600million”.

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