LASTMA Legal Adviser Debunks N50m Fraud Fallacy In Lagos Estate

In a meeting organized by the Executives of Maplewood Estate in Oko-Oba, Agege, Lagos State, and in order to set the record straight and make demands as regards a malicious publication aimed to defame the personality of the Estate’s Chairman, Barrister Akerele Oseni and his Executives, held a press conference to inform the press what happened and how the narrative was skewed to blemish his image. 

Some Online news platforms had reported that residents of the Estate have expressed frustration over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds to the tune of N50 million contributed to buy a 33KV power transformer. 

It was reported that the community for almost three months, had been plunged into darkness due to an alleged missing of N50 million power transformer that was contributed by the residents. 

The development prompted the Residents Association to call on Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and other relevant agencies to step in to salvage the situation and bring those responsible for these alleged fraudulent activities and mismanagement of funds accountable for their actions.

Meanwhile, the Executives of Maplewood Estate in a press statement issued during the weekend, posited that the damaging publication is not only fallacious but also malicious, orchestrated to damage the good reputation of the active chairman, who is the Legal Adviser of LASTMA and his indefatigable Excos, who have been working tirelessly on the 33kv transformer project. 

Consequently, the Chairman Maplewood Estate and his Executives in a statement issued on Saturday, called on the public to discountenance the reports, as well gave Publisher of the said malicious publication to retract story Or face legal actions. Trial.

The statement reads in part: “Because we have someone in the estate who had successfully fixed a 33kva transformer, we approached him so we can leverage on its experience and contact. 

“We constituted a 5 man-committee among the Excos to approach Pharmacist Ekundayo, who had successfully fixed 33kv transformer for his use.

“On getting to his place, he immediately put a call across to the contractor that helped him to fix it. The contractor  obliged and they fixed a meeting with us here in this same venue.

“We asked him if what he did for Pharmacist Ekundayo is doable. He said he needs to get approval from Ikeja Electric to ascertain if it is. If they approved it, then it is doable. 

“Fortunately they approved it. How much are we given you for the first phase of the approval, he said 100,000 and wrote an application on behalf of the entire estate to IKDC. The approval was granted within 3 weeks. 

“We called the estate residence to an emergency meeting that this is our intention for the estate and this man has brought an approval, are you all in support of the project or not before we started. 

“They all said it is a very good program but reminded us that the previous administration before us who had spent minimum of four years didn’t succeed. We are just warning you if you can succeed with the project. 

“We said let’s try our hands on it. We dispersed and constituted that 5 man committee to do a feasibility study to know the numbers of entire residence and to know the cost effective and also to get a quotation from the contractor to know how much they are going to use for the entire project. 

“They brought the quotation, the initial quotation was N42 million. He gave quotation for feeder pillars that are not in good shape and all the things to put in place for the project t to be done. 

“He said we need to overhaul feeder pillars cable in Democracy crescent. That cable gives us problem. When everybody is having light, that particular road will not have light and some other streets. 

“The cable goes on and off at every point in time. We took him to the place that this is always our problem. He said the land distribution that passes on top, should be converted to ground line. He gave us this quotation all numbers to fifty million naira. 

“We commissioned the committee to see how the N50,000,000 will be distributed among everybody and we held a general meeting to that effect again. 

“At the meeting we came to a conclusion that we will not allow Tenants to make contributions but rather, it will be the Landlords. So we took the statistics of number of buildings in the estate, it amounted to 250 buildings. 

“N50,000,000 was divided by 250 and we got N200,000 to be paid per building for the project. This plans started in last year April. 

“The contribution was very slow and the approval had a life span. Once it expires, there are other communities seeking for that approval. 

“When we discovered that, we decided to call for a meeting. Our meeting is usually the last Saturday of every month but because of the project, we decided to be calling the meeting very frequently. 

“We called a meeting and we said we want to appeal to the conscience of people within the estate that if you know you can contribute more than the agreed 200,000 naira, please do. We will give you receipt for the main contribution and another receipt for the remaining one. And then we said it is either you use it as your estate dues or you give it to us as a loan which we will return. 

“That was the first thing we did and people were contributing above. Infact I mandated all executive members that are landlords that they should contribute above 200,000 naira so we can mass the contribution together and be able to meet the target. 

“We called the contractor and asked him what we can deposit to kick-start the project. The contractor said if we have 8 million naira or thereabout, we should deposit. We gave him N8 million, seven hundred thousand, to kick-start the project. 

“Having given it to him, he started the project. The first thing he did was the life poles which the 33kva transformer is going to step down. When we realize we could not meet up with the contribution after he did that and it is remaining just 2 months for the opportunity to lapse, we held an emergency executive meeting and we came to the conclusion to move money from the Estate account which people contribute their monthly security dues.

“We got a N10 million loan from it which was added to the project account. We equally asked individuals that we have identified can give us loans, we approached about 3 of them and we got about N6 million. The money came up to a bigger amount that we can use to kick-start the project. 

“The transformer was brought for N27 million that is how the project was concluded in November of last year. But because we wanted to make sure the project is sound enough, the quality and it’s durability, we embarked on some repairs within the estate at the end of the day, we ended up spending fifty one million, one hundred and fifty thousand naira. 

“The project was commissioned on the 7th of January, all adjoining neighbors came, we all went there and we commissioned it at the site of the project and there was a plague unveiled to that effect and we started using uninterrupted 18/20 hours power supply on a daily basis up till April 20th, 2023. 

“Meanwhile we had people who had not contributed a dime among the landlords. All through late last year till February this year, we had been holding successive meetings on how to get this landlords to pay having agreed to participate in the project. We agreed that their light should be disconnected. They can’t be enjoying what everybody has contributed and they are siting down not taking action. 

At that point in time we have over N20 million from the coffers of estate residence landlords who are not contributing. The transformer had an issue on 20th April 2023 just about when a taskforce committee had been constituted to disconnect the light. 

“There was issue on distribution of line transformer, we had about 5. Those ones erupted traveled far to where the 33kva transformer was located. It damages the transformer. 

“The transformer has 3 years warranty. We can’t take the transformer out because the Ikeja Electric Distribution company had taken over it even though we are the one maintaining it. We migrated from 11kva to 33kva. 

“We had to write to Ikeja Electric that this is what is happening to our transformer. We asked if we be allowed to take the transformer to the supplier, so we can get a new one or repair that one. Actually we went for a new one, before they could answer us, it took them another 3 weeks.

The contractor came with an Hayab when they eventually answered us and took the transformer to the supplier. The supplier said they don’t have the specification of that our transformer, what they have is higher than that. What it means is that we will need to change all the distribution line transformer to meet up with the specification of that new one. 

“We don’t have money to buy 5 transformers, what can we do in respect to this, we asked. The man said it is reparable. If it is reparable, go ahead. That was the agreement we had. 

“Until the month of May 24th, 2023 Somebody hinted me that there will be a protest. The former Chairman said somebody called him that they are going to protest. 

“He asked them on what basis are they protesting. They said there is no light. He said is it the executives that damaged the transformer, he told them, they better hold on. 

“Behold, the next morning they locked the gate and started the protest. One of the security called me about it and I told him am coming. The former chairman advised me not to go and I said why ? I didn’t heed, rather, I left to witness what is going on. 

“While I got there, the treasurer was there, the General secretary was there addressing them. When I got there, I addressed them even though I was told not to. Having addressed them, I asked them to ask me any question in respect to light except technical issues that I may not be able to answer. 

“They asked many questions and I answered them. Curiously, I asked who is the leader of this protest, three of them identified themselves as leaders and I said no problem. I told them having locked the gate for this protest, you have gone beyond your bounds. 

“This is an estate that has executives. Have you approached any of the executive members of the Estate for an explanation before you did what you do?

“Assessing them, I realised they are tenants. I asked how much they contributed to this project and they said I didn’t contribute but my landlord contributed. 

“You should have gone to the landlord to ask what is happening to this light. When we called stakeholders meeting purposely for this light, where were you? 

“Incidentally, the next day was the day they were suppose to return the transformer from the repairs. I told them to take me by words and if they don’t, I will join them in the demonstration because I keep my words. 

“Having said that, the former chairman called my attention to the damaging publication to my personality on the residential platform of the estate. “Top notch LASTMA Legal Director Embezzles N50 million for a transformer. One of the leaders of the protest posted it on the platform, which gave me the idea of where it came from. 

“The so called N50 million has not been fully contributed by the landlord, what we got was just N33 million from the estate landlord that contributed. 

“We still have backlogs about N17 million from almost 90 houses in the estate who haven’t contributed a dime to the project. 

“So where did the issue of 50 million naira takes place? This is a project that has been completed and people are enjoying it.”

At the press parley, the Treasurer of the Marplewood Estate Executive, also gave the breakdown of how money was spent with a copy to the journalists. When asked if the protesters were privy to the pattern the funds were disbursed, he said they don’t attend stakeholders meetings that is why they are not in the know. 

Also speaking at the conference, the Legal Adviser of the Excos stated that you can mess with anybody but not to a lawyer. “They have asked the publisher to pull down the malicious publication, write an apology statement to that effect on half page of a national daily or pay a fine of N30 million, between 21 days. Failure to meet this conditions, he will be charged to court for defamation of character.”