Abuja – November 20, 2023 – Viewpoint Housing News.
The homeowners of Renaissance Estate in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, are requesting reinstatement to their property or payment of N4 billion in compensation from First Trust Mortgage Bank Plc for forcing them to leave.
Members of the Renaissance Homeowners and Residents Association experienced significant hardship after the eviction last year, which left many of them homeless as continued to lament their losses.
According to information obtained, the property owners paid N50 million for each of the 16 four-bedroom terrace homes at Plot 96 Bimkol Close, GRA Phase 3, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which they purchased in February 2010 through FBN Mortgages Limited, which is now First Trust Mortgage Bank Plc.
A letter by the solicitors to the association, Adeniji Kazeem & Company, to the Managing Director, First Trust Mortgage Bank Plc, signed by Partner, Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Efe Ize-Iyamu, said: “Our client that sometime in February 2010 several units of four bedroom flats situate at Plot 96, GRA Phase 3, Port Harcourt, Rivers State were sold to the homeowners, who subscribed to the Renaissance Homes housing scheme, an initiative of FBN Mortgage Bank Plc now known as First Trust Mortgage Bank Plc.
Up until March 1, 2022, they exercised undisturbed proprietary and possessory rights over their several units. Following this, men from the Nigeria Police Force invaded the property in an attempt to carry out a Supreme Court judgement that had been delivered sometime in January 2003. Since then, the homeowners and residents have been left homeless, stripped of their various belongings, and forced to rely on anyone who might be sympathetic.
The bank was accused by the law firm of flagrant incompetence in its investigation of the title it purchased from Vestor, neglecting any potential encumbrance and forcing the Renaissance Homeowners to accept a flawed title. Despite not being listed in the Lands Registry at the time, a thorough follow-up search would have revealed the Supreme Court Judgement.
Vestor purchased the land from former Squadron Leader Obiosa in June 2003 after the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s judgement on January 31, 2003. After that, in 2008, First Trust Mortgage Bank Plc purchased the site from Vestor.
“Given all of these circumstances, a reasonable man’s due diligence would have revealed that, in 2008, when your bank was going to buy the property from Vestor, there was a court martial judgement registered on the property, as well as a Court of Appeal judgement, which further prompted Vestor to register its interest. This would normally ignite anyone’s interest, especially your bank, to investigate the status of the appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Attorneys Onyeke, Ideho & Ighomuaye LP, representing the bank, responded by saying, “their client sympathises with victims over the sad and traumatic incident, which they find extremely strange, as it had no reason to doubt the credibility and validity of its predecessors-in-titles, over the land.”
“Our clients have initiated a comprehensive inquiry into the event to ascertain how a property, for which it possessed legitimate titles spanning three distinct predecessors-in-title, might have been the focus of a judicial proceeding, which it was unaware of or neglected until the issuance and implementation of the corresponding judgement.”
In the meanwhile, the group has already rejected the bank’s proposed course of action. “Restoring our client back to the same property is not something that our client is interested in negotiating with Adekanola, the Nigeria Air Force’s purported beneficiary of our confiscated property, who ultimately evicted our clients. The solicitors wrote, “We rather advised that It will be in your client’s best interest to explore other rooms of settlement options”.