Landlords and residents of the Owerri satellite town of World Bank Housing Estate in Imo state, have continued to count their woes, loses and regrets amidst misery, agony and oppression. Their predicaments stem from the insistence by the Federal Mortgage Bank officials who have kept vigil at the estate, waiting in the wings to revoke their personal properties, and sell out-rightly to others. The state government who should protect its citizens against extortion by financial institutions, have allegedly joined in forcing most of the victims to early graves.
Trouble in these directions started when the once moribund Mortgage institution earmarked some buildings scattered within Areas L,M and N of the estate and slated them for outright sales to new willing buyers claiming that those affected allotees had refused to refund a certain amount of credit facility obtained to build the houses. But for the quick intervention of Chief Tony Ejinkonye led World Bank Central Executives, the officials of Federal Mortgage Bank with headquarters at Abuja and a service office at Tetlow by Bank road Owerri, would have since dispossessed legitimate owners of titles of their hard earned properties.
The arguments have been; why did the Federal Mortgage Bank go moribund and even closed shops for several years without forcing their debtors to service or refund the said loans? At inception, the original allotees of the World Bank plots of lands were identified as only the low cadre civil servants who were even begged to obtain a loan of about N15000 each in order to enable them complete or build such allotted plots of land. Since the beneficiaries were low income earners in the civil service, the loans were supposed to be deducted from their salaries, each while in service or at retirement.
In the event a loan beneficiary retires from service without repaying in full, the loan to Federal Mortgage Bank, the capital and its accumulated interest would be deducted from his or her monthly pension and gratuity, whichever comes first. However, with Federal Mortgage Bank closing shop for years and not reminding the loan beneficiaries of the need to repay the loan and its interests promptly over the years, original land allotees, sold off their titles and transferred the power of Attorney to other willing buyers and land speculators without intimating them of the loan inabilities which they were mandatorily expected to refund through their salaries, wages and pensions.
Recently, the Bank officials have been threatening to sell those innocent peoples houses for failure to pay a loan that was not obtained in their name. According to them, the maximum sum of N15000 obtained between 1995 and 2000 has since accumulated interest of N1.6 million which must now be settled before December 2017 or the title holder loses the right of ownership to the plot or building or house to the Federal Mortgage Bank.
While this is going on, Ichie Best Mbanaso who parades as Adviser to the Governor on Market and Town Development, having failed to take over Umuaka Modern Market, have turned around to invade World Bank Estate mini market with his bulldozers.
Initially he clandestinely cornered the traders and executives into allowing him to give the market a face lift which he promised will not last longer than a few weeks. He identified a few lock-up shops that should be up-graded to a storey building in line with the Umuaka market design. As soon as he was allowed, Ichie Mbanaso virtually hijacked the entire market, de-roofed all the stalls and started a totally different project that would confer ownership of the mini market to him.
While his attempt to hijack and appropriate the market is going on, several traders have been displaced at a time they ought to eke out a living to pay the now re-introduced school fees and levies. As if that is not enough, Ichie Mbanaso has so far appropriated the open spaces in the areas including the former office of the World Bank Project Implementation Unit (PIU) and turned or conferred them to his personal markets. The open and lock-up shops have been built and presently on sale with no one in particular accounting for the accruing cost of selling government lands.