Nigeria’s real estate sector is an all-comers’ affair and it is being weighed down by activities of quacks and fraudsters parading as estate agents and property developers.

Apart from this, the sector is also without established regulations and standards for practitioners, hence the prevalence cases of building collapse, money laundering and other nefarious activities.

Sometime last year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, in a television programme, claimed that 90 per cent of money laundering was done through the real estate sector.

“One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate,” he said.

The anti-corruption agency’s boss stated that although the sector was monitored via the special control unit, but that more needed to be done.

Perturbed by various irregularities in the sector, major practitioners under the auspices of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Nigeria (REDAN) as well as other institutions and scholars had two years ago drafted the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill and presented it to the National Assembly – Senate and the House of Representative in July 2020.

While the 9th Senate of the Nigeria’s National Assembly in November 17, 2021 passed the bill and sent it to the House of Representatives for Concurrence a week after and was read on the floor of the House on December 2, 2021, the news coming from the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee Investigating the operations of the Real Estate Developers in the Federal Capital City is not cheering to real estate developers at all.

The House of reps Ad-Hoc Committee, in a communique released at the end of its workshop stated: “REDAN Bill is unrealistic and therefore be jettisoned”  despite observing that there was no clear regulatory legal framework for estate developers,  leading to the proliferation of incompetent, inefficient and fraudulent developers with the tendency to mislead the public.

They also observed that FCT was losing so much revenue as a result of non-compliance to the real estate regulations and enforcement of laws on land administration.

Shocked by the resolution, REDAN and the Housing Development Advocacy Network, in  a swift, took  on the Ad-Hoc committees, describing its resolution  on the bill  “as a clear contradiction of its observations,” saying such would spell disaster for the real estate industry.

REDAN is the umbrella body of the organised real estate sector (private and public) duly recognised by the Federal government and saddled with the responsibility of providing affordable housing for Nigerians. The body was established in 2002.

The President of REDAN, Aliyu Wammako and Executive Director of HDAN, Mr Festus Adebayo, disagreed with the resolution of the House of Representative Ad-hoc Committee.

They maintained that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) bill, if passed would curb various fraudulent activities and unprofessional  practices in the sector.

According to HDAN’s executive director, NASS must pass Real Estate Bill now, giving reasons why the law is so important.

Adebayo maintained that such bill is very important to the sector if the country is desirous of curbing the humongous fraud in the sector.

Rather than for the bill to destroy the sector as postulated by the House Committee in its resolution, Adebayo said it would act as a booster for investors and subscribers.

He therefore urged the lawmakers to have a rethink and push for the passage of the bill. “Following the resolution of the adhoc committee set by the House of Representatives to investigate the operations of the real estate developers in the FCT, the decision of the committee which was conveyed in  a communiqué signed by the Chairman of the Investigative Panel, Hon. Blessing Onuh, we in the Housing Development Advocacy Network strongly disagree with the resolution that says passing the housing bill will endanger the  sector.

“It would be recalled that the Senate in November 2021 passed a bill to help curb fraudulent practices, ensure that the real estate business conform with the national building code in Nigeria and as well as create an innovative and sustainable environment to promote Nigeria as a real estate investment destination in Africa and the world. The bill was sponsored by Senator Aliyu Wamako from Sokoto State,’ he said.

According to him, the whole idea of the bill was to regulate the activities in the sector and bring sanity to the operation of real estate developers, standardise the way we build houses, prevent money laundering, building collapse and other nefarious activities that the Nigerian housing sector is known for.

“But the Committee in a public notice said the passage of the real estate bill cannot be done for now, meaning the bill has to stay. We however believe that the refusal to pass the bill which has the support of major stakeholders including government agencies, will only spell doom for the sector.

“We believe that the inability of the ad-hoc committee to support and work for the passage of the bill despite the fact that it has the support of all stakeholders both in public and private sectors will create more danger in the industry.’

“We keep asking questions everyday and every time about who is protecting subscribers in the Nigerian housing industry. At various times and occasions, people are being duped of their hard earned resources and when the matters are taken to the police, nothing serious has  ever been done, many of these cases are in the court for over three years.

“There is little the Consumer Protection Agency can do in this area because there is no law that regulates activities of developers, that is, who should be a developer, what should be the qualities of a developer and many others that relate with the business,” Adebayo said

According to the HDAN’s executive director, all the crimes raised by the ad-hoc committee in its investigation were many of the reasons why the sector should be regulated.

REDAN maintained that business of real estate should be regulated in Nigeria as in other climes.

The President of REDAN urged the members of the House of Representatives to standout against money laundering and the sanitization of the real estate business in Nigeria by passing the bill.  According to him, the bill would serve the interest of the masses, increase investment in the sector and promote housing development not only in the FCT but the entire country.

Anonymous person wrote: “The REDAN Bill need to be cleaned up. There are many contentious issues. Too much arrogation of power to REDAN, Remember, most of the NASS members are property developers, while many are planning to become property developers after their term in office.

The bill’s objectives are to: Standardize the business of real estate development in Nigeria by regulating the conduct of transactions in the real estate sector; provide enabling environment and transparency in the business of real estate development in Nigeria; make the business of real estate development in Nigeria conform to international best practices and safeguard the ultimate interest of all stakeholders in the business;

Others are to curb fraudulent practices in the business of real estate development in Nigeria; ensure that the real estate business conforms with the National Building Code in Nigeria; create an innovative and sustainable environment to promote Nigeria as a real estate investment destination in Africa and the world; and ensure that the real estate business in Nigeria conforms with the Money Laundering prohibition Act 2011 (as amended) and NFIU Act 2018 in terms of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing due diligence compliance.

Source : Leadership