The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has declared its intention to investigate the operations of Landwey Investment Limited, a Lagos-based real estate company, for possible violations of consumers’ rights.
FIJ had earlier exposed the highanded and extortionist practices of the real estate company and its founder, Olawale Ayilara, towards their clients.
On Friday, FIJ released its investigation into the ponzi-like operations of Landwey, detailing how the company took funds from the public for lands that were never delivered, before going on to market new land schemes.
The investigation was eventually brought to the FCCPC’s notice, with two of the commission’s most senior officers now confirming “the infringement of consumer rights”.
“The circumstances of this transaction brings it within the FCCPA and the Commission will be keenly interested to intervene to address the infringement of consumers’ rights.” Babatunde Irukera, the director general of the FCCPC, told FIJ.
Tam Tamunokonbia, FCCPC’s legal adviser, subsequently wrote a letter titled Possible Violations of Consumers’ Rights by Landwey Investment Limited, to FIJ, saying: “The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (Commission) attention has been drawn to your article about complaints against Landwey Investment Limited (Landwey) by aggrieved consumers who were victims of the unethical practices of Landwey. The Commission understands that Landwey is a real estate investment company involved in the construction and development of properties on behalf of its consumers/clients.
“Specifically, the complaints describe the activities of Landwey as manipulative and frivolous; and the contractual terms entered into with consumers as being obnoxious.
“There were also complaints of Landwey’s failure to meet up with contractual deadlines, failure to refund aggrieved consumers and land re-allocation without delivery amongst others. There seems to be no contractual delivery timeline for the construction and development of the property(ies) as evidenced in the contract term executed by the parties.”
The commission said that in pursuance of Sections 17(I) and (s), 124 (1) (a)–(c), 127 and 129, 130 (1) (a), 148 (2), and 167 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA), it established its jurisdiction and mandate to provide redress for the affected consumers.
FIJ had reported the accounts of 10 victims of Landwey who paid millions of naira to acquire homes in different estates owned by the company, but received failed delivery timelines that threatened their investments and destabilised their lives and businesses.
Rather than fulfill its responsibility to its clients, Landwey resorted to periodic publication of the same challenges: COVID-19, EndSARS, and inflation, while withholding clear and specific project delivery timelines.
All these factors, though, have not stopped Ayilara from personally acquiring expensive homes in Nigeria and overseas, while Landwey itelf has continued vast expansions of their estates, seeking further investments from unsuspecting members of the public with the help of hired influencers who contort the estate to be what it is not.
FIJ also understands that the victims are in their hundreds, many of them currently abroad and hoping to have a class home to someday return to in Nigeria.
Several years after payment, the investments of numerous Landwey clients remain immaterialised. Many also refuse to cut ties with the firm because of the unfavourable terms of their contract with Landwey. The refund policies allow the company to retain 30% of their clients’ monies for agency fees and 10% for administrative charges, even when Landwey is the party to have reneged on agreements. Furthermore, the contract limits clients’ avenues for seeking redress.
“This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If any dispute shall arise between the parties hereto or their representatives with regards to the charges or otherwise in relation to the right or obligation of the parties hereunder, such disputes shall be resolved by discussions & negotiation among the parties. If that fails, the dispute and all matters in relation thereto shall be determined by a single arbitrator appointed by the agreement of the parties in accordance with the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Cap A18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 or any statutory enactment in that regard for time being in force. A venue for the arbitration in Lagos State, shall be determined by the Parties. The decision of the Arbitrator shall be final and binding on parties,” a part of the contract reads.
Consequently, the FCCPC determined that FIJ’s report indicates that there were violations of consumers’ rights, and has committed to furthering the investigation to seek redress for victims.
“Given the definition of a consumer under the FCCPA to include any person to whom a service is rendered, these cases fall within the mandate and jurisdiction of the Commission. Though the cases appear to be purely contractual, the Commission has the mandate of protecting consumers against the unscrupulous activities of undertakings; as well as prohibit unfavourable contractual terms.
“In accordance with its powers and functions, the Commission may commence an investigation into the possible unethical and unscrupulous practices of Landwey Investment Limited, in order to provide redress for affected/aggrieved consumers. Upon receiving complaint and competent evidence, the Commission will proceed and enforce the law.”