Multi-Million Housing Fraud: NUJ Pen Jewel Estate Mowe Designed To Fail- Chris Isiguzo

…no Gov can’t pay N30 ,000 minimum wage

Chika Nwabueze

National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo has said that the controversial Journalists Estate Mowe, Ogun State in which subscribers lost their money was designed to fail ab initio, adding that the process of recovering the money has been activated and the affected journalists to get their money back soon.

Addressing the press in Umuahia Friday after the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of NUJ held in Umuahia, Isiguzo said he had met with the relevant stakeholders, and an agreement was reached. He noted that the developer and others were given one month to return the N73 million paid to him and other monies, saying that once the money is recovered the subscribers will be given back their money.

He explained that the NUJ is not interested in meting out punishment to anyone involved in the scandal now, until all the money is recovered and returned to the subscribers of the Pen Jewel Estate, Mowe. According to the NUJ president the issue was discussed at the NEC meeting and it was resolved that they should hold on until those involved return the money as directed by the national leadership during their meeting at Lagos.

News Critic reports that the Journalists estate Mowe which was promoted by the Mrs Ify Omowole led NAWOJ, is a multi-million-naira low cost housing estate designed for female journalists, which the male journalists were also allowed to buy into using the name of their wives. To be a beneficiary of the housing scheme, a subscriber must be an owner of a plot of land at the proposed site, in addition to the payment of counterpart funding for the project which was in Dollars. The cost of one unit of the bungalow then was put at N2.5 million and the subscriber is expected to balance off in instalments over a period of seven years or more.

At the outset an international charity organization, Counselling Research Consulting and Investment- Africa was to handle the project but latter pulled out, before NAWOJ brought a private developer to execute the failed project. The project which was expected to have been completed over six years ago keep dragging as the NAWOJ leadership continue to make excuses and tell stories on why the project is moving slowly despite assurances of early completion once the subscribers were able to pay their counterpart funding.

It was not until news started flying that Ify Omowole has allegedly tampered with the project money that subscribers started to ask questions and begin to see the fraud in it. For instance, after subscribers have paid the amount required as counterpart funding in Dollars, the promoters of the project, called a meeting demanding payment of additional money as according to them, they could not meet the required number of subscribers which led to a shortfall in the total amount of money needed to pay to the international partners before the project could commence.

The journalists who were desirous to own their houses agreed to pay the addition money after they were also compelled to pay another money for perimeter fencing. A project that was to be completed within a year at the cost of N2.5 million per unit, dragged on until the cost jumped to between N8-10 million for a unit of three bed-room bungalow. However, in spite of subscribers meeting up with the additional payment of money, nothing was done and the journalists lost their money to the fraudulent scheme initiated by NAWOJ, an association of women journalists.

Right now the subscribers, including this reporter are asking for the return of their money as they are no longer interested in the fraudulent scheme again 7-years after it was initiated by NAWOJ. On the payment of the new minimum wage, Isiguzo, said no state government is incapable of paying N30, 000 minimum wage, pointing out that any governor that is not ready to pay should quit now. He also called on media houses to ensure that the welfare of journalists is well taken care of, while stressing that any media house that could not pay workers has no reason to remain in business

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