More Nigerians Fall Victims Of Quack Estate Agents


Almost on a daily basis, clients are having it rough in the hands of quacks pretending to be competent professionals, especially in the service industry.

And the bitter experience of Nigerians in the hands of quack estate agents, most of whom were formerly artisans, readily comes to mind. The case of a church minister was really pathetic. “In the course of trying to get a roof over my head,” Pastor Gbade narrated, “I am now stranded, and totally confused about what to do next.”

The man of God who was formerly residing in Ojodu was approached by a barber-turned estate agent, asking him to purchase a half-plot of land in Matogun. And after the transaction seemed to have been concluded, it was discovered that the property in question was a disputed piece of land between two neighbouring villages in Ogun State.

“Honestly speaking, I had no cause to suspect this barber who suddenly turned to an estate agent. He approached my wife and said there is a half plot of land for sale at Matogun, a village in the suburb of Akute, Ogun State. We packed all our family savings and gave it to this young man, having earlier convinced us that the land belongs to his ancestral family in that village.”

According to the enraged man of God, on the day he was to lay the foundation for the building of a 3-bedroom bungalow, he was chased out of the site along with his wife and children by another family from a neighbouring village who claimed to be the actual owners of the land.

And when asked whether he had been able to recover his money, he responded helplessly. “So far, out of a total of N100,000 we have been able to recover only N20,000. Our persistent appeal to the family that duped us fell on deaf ears. And the most frustrating aspect of the transaction is that the estate agent who led us into this mess has disappeared into thin air. He is nowhere to be found again.”

The experience of a female school teacher who wished to remain anonymous has now given the element of trust, a different meaning entirely. And based on this, she would not like to take people on the basis of their face value any more.

According to her, it was a welder who is now parading himself as an estate-agent that got them their present apartment some three years ago. And all the while, her family had always paid the yearly rent through him to the landlady.

“My brother, I do not think I would be able to trust anybody any more,” the female school teacher stated, while narrating her experience. “While we were about to pack out of Lagos to Ibafo, it was this welder-turned estate agent who linked us to the landlady.  He was so close to my family to the extent that my husband would pay our rent without bothering whether the receipt is issued to him immediately or not. And it was this trust the quack agent abused in our estate agent/tenants relationship.”

And concluding the story of her woeful experience, the female teacher shook her head in regret: “Our last house rent was given to me by my husband, with the instruction that I should give it to the agent the next day. And on my way to work the following day, I did exactly as instructed by my husband.  A few months later, the landlady came to ask why we have not paid our yearly rent. I rushed to the office of the agent and when confronted him about the money handed over to him, he denied flatly, saying we had not paid the rent.”

As far as quack estate agents are concerned, self interest takes the pride of place, hence like dogs with a big bone at stake, in the course of business transactions, they bite themselves ferociously to no end. And this was the bitter experience of Pa James, a retiree of LUTH who is now working as an estate agent. Narrating his experience, he was still wondering how a fellow estate agent could have easily cheated him the way his business partner did recently. “A Nigerian living in the United Kingdom wanted to buy a property either in Lagos or Abuja. I was contacted about the business and I had to call on my colleague who is also an estate agent. After a few months, we got a property through him. At the end of a thorough due diligence, my client was satisfied. And a few days after negotiations, the property was paid for.”

But the unfortunate thing was that at the time Pa James was to receive his commission, he took ill, hence he had to mandate his colleague to collect the commission on his behalf. According to the cheated senior citizen, the unwritten rule of the business is that all agents involved in the transaction would pool together after which the total commission would be shared appropriately amongst all the agents.

“But to my dismay” Pa James said, “my friend and colleague ran away with the total commissions that was supposed to be shared amongst five estate agents. In all my years on this planet earth, I have never had that kind of ugly experience.”

The law of the Nigerian society does not respect anybody and this was the case when a village head in one of the suburbs of Lagos was taken to the police station for selling the property of Chief Ugwoche to a lecturer in a state owned higher institutions.

According to the Igbo high chief, sometime ago when the village head was yet to become the Baale of his community, he offered to sell a plot of land to him. At that time, the transaction was not concluded in the sense that he did not complete the payment of the total cost of the land.

“It was about five years ago” Chief Ugwoche began to narrate his bitter experience, “when he was yet to become the Baale and leader of his community. He had approached me for a sum of N500,000 for a plot of land which he claimed to be his own. At that time, I was able to pay N400,000 with a firm pledge to pay the balance of N100,000 at a later date to which both of us agreed. But I went to the site one day, when I discovered that some construction works had been going on. I later discovered that the plot of land in question had been sold to a lecturer in one of the universities in Lagos.”

And when asked about the next course of action to be taken against the community leader, he said swiftly: “I am surely going to take action against him in a court of competent jurisdiction. I have at my disposal, all the proofs and witnesses in respect of the ownership of the property.”

In the case of Mr. Ugbo Imoh an industrialist based in Lagos, it was that of outright betrayal of close friend and confidante. According to the businessman, he had been contacted by his childhood friend who is a  kabukabu (unpainted cab) driver in Lagos about a family in Mowe who intends to sell some acres of land.

“Due to problems that used to be associated with land matters,” Mr. Ugbo narrated, “I did not want to be involved in the land issue. But my friend kept on pestering me to take interest until I finally agreed. Based on trust, I gave him money to buy 6 plots on my behalf.”

A few months later when the industrialist wanted to get valid documents for the property that was purchased on his behalf, it was then that he discovered that his friend had betrayed him.

According to him, rather than the kabukabu driver turned estate agent buying 6 plots of land for him, he bought 3 plots for the businessman and 3 plots for himself.

“I do not know that my childhood friend can do this to me. He used my money to buy 3 plots of land for himself. And this is after I have paid his commission. There is also some money he falsely demanded from me on behalf of the villagers. Anyway, I have taken his case to the council of our Eze in the village,” Ugbo lamented.

The risk that Mr. Jemi took that seemed to be reasonable initially later blew in his face. He had sold his property in Lagos to a corporate firm at a good price that boost his bank account to the tune of millions of naira. It was at this stage that an estate agent introduced a property to him on the outskirts of Lagos. After he had paid for the bungalow and renovated it to his own taste, it was then he found out that the seller was not the original owner of the property.

Tears welled up in his eyes as he narrated his story: “I am really in a fix. I never think I can fall into this kind of a hopeless situation. I never realised for one second that I was dealing with a syndicate. The supposed owner of the property gave me fake documents. The estate agent that introduced the property to me is nowhere to be found. Now, even if the original owner of the house intends to sell, I don’t have any money to make the purchase again. Besides, he is not even ready to sell. Oh I am really in  a fix.”

In the neighbourhood of Ijoko, a settlement in Ogun State, is a plot of land purchased by a bricklayer on behalf of his client that he used to address as oga (boss). A landlord that wishes to remain anonymous, said “The name of the bricklayer is Abi ( real name withheld). He used to be a contractor to one wealthy businessman who is based in Lagos. He asked the businessman to buy the plot of land in question. Mr. Abi set out to bewitch the man to the extent that the owner does not remember again that he has a plot of land at Ijoko. Mr. Abi has taken over possession of the property. All these shops you are seeing were built by the bricklayer. And he has been collecting rent regularly.”

On a serious note, as long as drivers, tailors, bicycle-repairers, carpenters, battery-chargers, shoemakers, vulcanizers, etc. are abandoning their trade in order to take up estate agency as a career, definitely the end is not in sight in respect of victimization (duping) awaiting more Nigerians.

But a trained technocrat who studied land economy in UK but wishes to remain anonymous gave this piece of advice to Nigerians: “There is virtually no profession in which quackery is not an issue. All a client needs to do is to patronise only the trained professional, for therein lies salvation. Clients should not mind the professional charges in order to get quality service.”

—Bayo Babatunde writes from Lagos.

Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2010 P.M.News

Load more