A fleeing landlord, his brother and an agent said to be the landlord’s son who swindled hundreds of house seekers in Alapere-Ketu area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria, have been unmasked.
Alhaji Salaudeen Ishola
The fraudsters have been on the run since Monday, 15 July, the same day they asked prospective tenants to come for the keys to the apartments they rented in a newly built house located at 59, Oriola Street, Alapere-Ketu.
They had collected hundreds of thousands of naira from each of the house seekers for 13 flats but disappeared when it was time to give them their keys to pack in.
Those who have been identified include Alhaji Salaudeen Ishola, who acted as the landlord of the property and his son Tunde who was his main agent. Also identified is the landlord’s brother who was also involved in the crime and whose picture appears here.
The tenants identified the suspects via pictures they left along their trail as they kept collecting money even a day to the date they had given those whopaid months ago to pack in.
More duped tenants continued to storm the building on Wednesday with their receipts and agreements given to them by the property’s owners. Emmanuel Ogoigbe and his wife, Abigail paid N335,000 but have not heard from the landlord or the agent since Monday when they were asked to come for their keys.
“My husband and I don’t know what to do,” she said, tearfully. Those who were duped included a 69-year old woman, Mrs. Mariam Eboigbe, and a couple that will be getting married on 4 August and had planned to move into the new house straight from the wedding ceremony.
One of them is Nwanga Jeff narrated how he was duped of N200,000. On 6 January this year, he made enquiries about the property from Tunde, who the landlord identified as his son.
They both agreed on an annual rent of N170,000, with a total package of N315,000 for one and half years.
“The following day, I went there with my brother and made part-payment of N200,000 for a mini-flat apartment. I requested to pay the money into a bank account, but Tunde insisted that I should bring cash. I did.
“In the agreement form he gave me, it was stated that I must pay the balance on or before 15th of the same month, so I made preparations for that. It was when I got there on that particular day that I saw over a hundred people outside the house lamenting how they have been duped by the same guy, who was already on the run,” he said.
Jeff added that it was in the process that they discovered that Tunde and his father (the landlord) have duped over 200 people.
“More people have been coming with receipts issued to them by the dubious agent and his father,” he said.
Many other victims include medical doctors, public servants, a newly wed couple and a staff of a private company who was transferred to Lagos recently.
“We want government to come and seal the house, sell it and pay us back and prosecute the criminals,” one of the duped tenants said on behalf of others who were at the house on Wednesday.
“Some of us borrowed money. Many others saved for months. Some others even have quit notices from theur current landlords. We don’t know where to start from. We believe there is a government that can help us,” he said.
The duped tenants were on their way to SARS and to Alausa to protest. Others had gone to Ogudu Police Station to lodge a complaint.
“Policemen in Alapere cannot help us. One of them or their brother or friend got an apartment in the same house. We realised they have compromised. That’s why we went to Ogudu Police Station,” a tenant said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Ngozi Braide, said she did not know the whereabouts of the fleeing suspects.
On Monday night, angry tenants fought back by pulling down the gate to the building and removing part of the roof. They unleashed their anger on the property after they realised that the landlord, the developer and the agents were still on the run.
Tenants who showed up on Monday had paid an aggregate sum of about N6 million.