When former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed set out to demolish estates that were not legally acquired in Abuja about four years ago, approximately two hundred and fifty of such estates were listed. The owners of the state according to him did not get their lands through the right sources. Not a few residents who had bought land or even built homes on these lands believing they had acquired their properties from reputable organizations developed high blood pressure when bulldozers came.
An association was quickly formed and up till today they are still battling the government and investments running into billions of dollars are most likely to go down the drain. The estate owners simply bought land by proxy, thinking that they could regularse the titles while some were out and out swindlers.
The lessons from these for many Abuja residents as at that time was that it was no longer too safe to patronise estate owners thinking that buying homes or land from them was safe. Quietly, many of the estate owners who could leave town left while many of those who didn’t are still hoping that government would lose the case or have a rethink. Meanwhile, this was the beginning of many problems for estate owners in Abuja.
Apart from the recession which gradually set in as Buhari began his crackdown, people started looking at estates as investment traps. You could buy a property and end up losing fortunes. Again, there was the case of the EFCC. Once it became obvious that houses could easily be taken over as being under investigations, not many people were keen on buying or even renting. Everyone became scare. No one would like to buy a 500 million Naira property only to see the red marker of the EFCC on it the next week
Meanwhile, there has always been the fear that most of the properties in Abuja were owned by civil servants serving or retired who also acquired by proxy. This meant that anyone who knew much about properties would know that there was high risk of being caught buying a property that is proceeds of stolen money.Many of these people, prior to Buhari era had also had problems getting tenants because since the money were essentially stolen, tthey charged unreasonable rents which scared away buyers or tenants. Sins they were not under any pressure to recoup what they invested, they could afford to leave the houses uninhabited.
Some of such properties are also located in areas where they are no amenities, despite government promises that such would be provided. Many of the estates in the city run on boreholes and individual power supply rather than electricity from public supply. Even access roads are not there, thus people would still prefer where they would have access to these facilities and pay tokens for them rather than buying homes or renting house where they know that they stand a fifty, fifty chance of being thrown out before their rent expire.
The shrinking economy has meant high drop in purchasing power and lesser interest in buying homes. People are saving the little they have now for survival issues and taking care of high priority bills unlike a couple of years back when you could afford to gamble on properties which you could buy and resell or put out for rent and be making gradual incomes.