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Days of blackmail, corruption gone at HIPDC, Mgt insists

The management of Harmony Holdings Limited has reiterated that it would not be blackmailed by the campaign of calumny and showmanship of some staff of Harmony Investment and Property Development Company (HIPDC) who have been incited to make wild allegations against the holding company in an attempt to thwart its reform policies and reclamation efforts.

This was in reaction to a protest organised early Wednesday at HIPDC premises in Fate, Ilorin.
According to a statement issued by the Corporate Affairs Unit, some corrupt top staff along with their political masters who smell an impending trouble from the various steps taken by the present leadership of Harmony Holdings to get justice over the malpractices of the past relating to Mandate III Estate, Galadimawa Estate, Abuja, among other projects, are instigating other colleagues to prosecute their agenda.
Read full statement below:

1. The Mandate III Estate project alone is costing the Kwara State Government debt to the tune of N1.5 billion. Under the administration of Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) was approached for loan to build Mandate III Estate in Ilorin. They were supposed to provide housing to civil servants with this facility, while also making profit for the state as an investment. Till today, however, the state is still suffering from the wholesale malpractices done by that government in active connivance of many of the staff members who are the ones coming out now to stage protest and make unfounded claims just to shield their political benefactors from justice. The estate was gifted to political cronies of the past government, with many of them not able to show evidence of payment. There were also cases of underpayment, illegal allocations, among other mind-boggling misdemeanor found out which the organisation is moving to address frontally.

2. It is not surprising therefore that those who perpetrated these illegalities with Kwara’s properties through HIPDC have begun to feel the heat and had started sponsoring their allies at HIPDC to blackmail the management just to shift attention away from their misdemeanor. The infractions of non-payment and underpayment have caused the state a lot of damages which they must pay for. One of the incalculable damages done to the state is that it cannot access FMBN loan for housing projects for several years now. While other states like Lagos, Sokoto, and others, are enjoying various facilities at FMBN, Kwara is left in the cold.

3. You will recall that the management of Harmony Holdings has set up revalidation and investigation committees to review the allocation of lands and houses in all the estates owned by its subsidiary HIPDC across the country starting with Mandate III and Galadimawa Estates in Ilorin and Abuja respectively. These tasks have been embarked upon for over a year now in a bid to uncover the illegalities around the management of commercial housing projects in this state owned company which has executed more than fifteen of such scheme but remains heavily indebted on all fronts. The GMD/CEO has been asking the question regarding why almost all land and housing schemes executed by the company have all resulted in huge loss, liabilities, indebtedness, litigations and other negativities and no one is bothered to unravel the reason or change the operarional strategies of the company.

4. The findings of the various revalidation exercises were mind-boggling, and the reports are being reviewed one after the other with committees being set up to implement the recommendations. Trouble however started in the company since we inaugurated the committee to implement the findings in Mandate III estate where it was discovered that a majority of the company’s management and its senior staff particularly heads of departments all played a very active role in abetting the ilegalities that made an otherwise profitable venture result in the current indebtedness of N1.5b to the Federal Mortgage Bank which was abandoned, unserviced and allowed to continue to accumulate.

5. After allocating the 250 built spaces largely to unqualified beneficiaries, they carved out 63 plots in the estate and allocated them without any record of the transactions that were discovered to have generated hundreds of millions of naira which is nowhere to be found. Shopping complexes were built and sold in the same way. The saddest part is that everyone in HIPDC claims they do not have access to the transaction files or privy to the illegal sales until our committee carried out the investigations and found out that they all participated in the corrupt activities. Only then did they change their narrative that they acted under the instructions of their superiors but if that is true why are they hellbent on sabotaging the implementation of the findings of those investigations by our management.

6. Again, most of the houses sold in that same estate which have not been fully paid for have been distorted either by expansion, building multiple houses on single plots, closing of roads to build personal structures, building in green areas, converting police station and schools to houses etc. All the affected home owners clearly told the investigative and revalidation committee that they carried out those illegalities with the knowledge and approval of HIPDC staff although without any formal approval.

7. There are also similar and more disturbing cases at Galadimawa estate in Abuja which belongs to the Kwara State Government through HIPDC. In this estate, illegal beneficiaries are scattered across because the sales at the estate was initially handled by two persons identified as Banke and Tosin who were appointed without evidence of any previous involvement in even a small scale housing estate to develop the estate on behalf of the company but rather than doing that, they went ahead to parcel out the lands into plots and sold them illegally without paying to the coffers of the company or the state government under the administration of Dr. Bukola Saraki. Eventually when they were caught under the last administration of Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed, they sent in dud cheques to Harmony Holdings to the tune of N600m. When Harmony Holdings commenced their prosecution at EFCC over the dud cheques of N600m and other very grievous crimes they were simply ordered by the government to drop the charges and withdraw the cases for internal investigation. However, as soon as the cheques were recovered from the EFCC and claimed to be deposited in the safe of Harmony Holdings, the company was burgled and the burglers only went away with the cheques hence the cases were dropped. The then management of Harmony Holdings took over what was left in the estate and rather then sell profitably to recover from the huge losses occassioned by the illegallities of the rogue developers as supervised by the state government then, they simply sold the remaining to cronies of the new government without payment of premiums and falsified the records to indicate that they bought during the period the developers sold illegally. Unfortunately, even after building mansions worth multi-million naira everywhere, we are unable to find the evidences of their payments.

8. The developers who wrecked such havoc and the management of Harmony Holdings that took over and finished the wrecking with the active involvement of most of the current crop of senior staff in HIPDC today who also claimed they were acting under instructions were never brought to justice. The new management has also uncovered that and is addressing the issue which these people have been trying to resist.

9. To allow the company unfettered access to the remaining documents relating to these two transactions and the illegalities surrounding them we have directed that all senior management staff fingered in any of those corrupt activities must vacate their current offices under a minor redeployment activity which they have resisted vehemently and have been striving desperately to scuttle. This is the first time that we are seeing staff of a company protesting transfer from their current departments or being redeployed to other subsidiaries under the same parent company and the management of the company is being threatened by staff protest.

10. The staff who turned out for the protest are largely recruited by the corrupt senior colleagues who profited at various times from the illegalities perpetrated in the company, especially when it was under the public service before and during the administration of Dr. Bukola Saraki and even played active roles under the management of Harmony Holdings during the last administration of Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed. Some of these members of staff were indicted for issuing offer letters for lands and houses worth millions without any evidence of payment. In another instance, receipts were issued for payments whose records were never found in the company’s bank statements and some even had forged bank tellers.

11. Nothing could therefore explain the desperation of these elements to crash the company just one week after committees were inaugurated to implement the reports of the findings and they were all served their transfer letters with new officers redeployed from the headquarters and other subsidiaries to preside over the affairs of those departments where these fraudulent activities were masterminded and we are actively seeing the occupiers of the offices frustrating the efforts of the management in its quest to not only uncover the fraud but bring its perpetrators to book.

12. In fact, the union leaders of HIPDC did not join the protest after reading through their shenanigans. They are fighting the new management on behalf of their former principals and also protecting themselves from being exposed under the guise of staff welfare and unfounded allegations. It should be on record that HIPDC does not owe a single month of salary. Clearly therefore, the concerns were not that of staff welfare because we have been able to manage staff welfare within the available resources despite the huge challenges and liabilities we met on the ground.

13. There have been series of threats to the GMD/CEO just to frustrate the holding company from ensuring justice over the past malfeasance which is in the best interest of all Kwarans. The public should be rightly informed that the other dimension of this purported staff protest is purely political and ethnic motivated bitterness, the details of which will be made public soon. However, it’s instructive to state that all the staff who led the protest and addressed the press when the union refused to go ahead with the protest inspite of all the harassment and threats in the hands of these elements are renowned political allies of a former Governor of this state who are currently active leaders of their political party and they do not hide their identity. Particularly, the first staff member of HIPDC who addressed Sho Pen Online TV, Mr Odo, was on record to have personally confronted the GMD/CEO of the company after a general staff meeting held in Stella Obasanjo Multi Purpose Hall, challenging him for speaking at length about the achievements of the current governor and exposing the wrongdoings of the previous administration and even went ahead to issue a subtle threat that if that continues the company will be ungovernable. He has been identified to always demand that we abandon investigation about whatever has happened in the company previously but rather try to focus on the present alone. It is therefore understandable to see him as one of the ringleaders of such a protest even when he is not an executive of the union. That protest was carried out in fulfillment of a political directive from their pay masters who have been heard boasting that they will keep this government and its functionaries busy as we approach the 2023 elections.

14. The management of Harmony Holdings will never be cowed by the campaign of calumny these forces have started. There is no going back on the investigative exercise and defaulters shall be brought to justice. All transferred staff are also to resume at their new offices immediately as stiff penalties await all defaulters. Staff are not in a position to dictate to their employers who and when to transfer. Similarly, any staff member indicted or found guilty by the investigative panel shall face the consequences of their misdemeanor.

15. Finally, the public is assured that the full reports of the various revalidation and investigative exercises which they are desperately trying to suppress will be released to them with all evidences within one week. This is to further give the public the resources it needs to clearly judge us and see the quantum of illegalities that all those dancing naked in the market square are trying to cover up and determine who is acting patriotically on behalf of the people of Kwara State between us and them.