By Kunle Adedoyin
Residents of Royal Gardens Estate in the Ajah area of Lagos have staged a protest against Trojan Estates Limited and Broll Properties Limited, the agents and developers of the estate, accusing them of extortion.
The residents who staged a protest on Saturday said the two companies for four years have extorted them under the guise of service charges.
They accused Trojan, a real estate firm from which they bought spaces in the estate from, has not provided services commensurate with its service charges billings.
The residents said they had unanimously agreed to pay about half of the charge for the previous year but that Trojan refused to sell electricity tokens to them despite the intervention of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKDC).
Describing this as unlawful, the residents said Trojan had cut off electricity from some homes, exposing them to security risks.
“As law abiding citizens, we have made complaints to EKDC, NERC and the Nigeria Police Ajah in a bid to call Trojan/Broll to order. We have also approached the court to secure an injunction to restrain them from this action but the lawlessness by Trojan/Broll has remained unabated,” Gus Wiggle, Chairman of the residents’ association said.
“We cannot be denied access to electricity since this is our fundamental right. Our protest today is a non-violent action. It is the beginning of several other actions we shall take to ensure that our rights are never denied us.”
In a letter to Trojan and Broll dated July 30, 2019, the EKDC had said the refusal to sell electricity tokens to the residents is most unacceptable especially as it amounts to disregard and abuse of the rights of the residents under the applicable laws and regulations, particularly the electric power sector reforms act, 2005.
“We wish to stress that we are becoming tremendously discomforted by these unending complaints from the residents of the Royal Garden Estate for your failure to ensure that proper practices are adhered to in relation to the supply of electricity to the residents of the Royal Garden Estate. We therefore counsel that you henceforth implement necessary actions and take relevant precautions to avoid further occurrence of like issues and consequent complaints from the residents of Royal Garden Estate,” part of the letter read.
The EKDC subsequently instructed that electricity token be made available immediately to the residents but this directive was flouted.
Trojan, the residents said, collected huge sums from buyers of land in the area and in a suspicious manner took over the management of services in the estate through Broll whom they claimed is also owned by Trojan.
Both companies, according to the residents, have not been accountable and had refused to sign the deed of agreement with plot owners.
“We are asking Trojan and Broll to be transparent with us. We can’t be slaves in our own house, we are not tenants here, we bought lands,” Wiggle said.
“Having succeeded in imposing Broll as facility managers, against the letter of the signed deed of agreement which stipulates that the plot owners enter into an agreement with a facility manager, Trojan and Broll have continued to exploit and profiteer from their stranglehold in the provision of services to the estate.
“These services in turn are substandard and not comparable to those provided in surrounding estates where plot owners pay substantially less.
Wiggle said in the last four years, the imposed service charge has increased over 200% despite the continued deterioration of services, which as a result has caused several incidents of break-ins, theft, security breaches and road accidents.
“We cannot have 19 security in this whole estate and you are charging us for 49,” he said.
Residents said they have had to spend their own money to provide additional security and facility upgrades to maintain their safety and health in the estate.
When contacted by a section of the media, staff of Broll refused to make comment on the situation.