LET US PREY: A fraudulent accommodation thriller on your special page TALES FROM COLLEGE only @ gubanu.com
Searching for the perfect house to live in can be an arduous task, especially when one is under pressure, on the brink of becoming homeless. It makes one vulnerable to cases of fraud which are very recurrent in the Nigerian real estate industry. It is a shame little is being done to stop these crimes. There are a lot of crooks out there ready to pounce on the chance of swindling any naive “house hunter”.
I had an unfortunate but eye-opening experience about this, some years ago when I newly got admitted in the university – Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt – after a series of unsuccessful attempts. I moved from Lagos to “the Garden City”, having neither family nor friends that lived in the city and could put me up. I was a little too overwhelmed by the news of my long awaited admission that I hardly bothered about where to stay. On the night of my arrival, I lodged in a modest inn, on the outskirts of the city. The following morning, I was off to my school to carry out my registration process. The transport fare was expensive but I somehow ignored it. On my second day in Port Harcourt , when I went back to the inn, after completing the payment of my tuition fee, I discovered I had almost spent all the money I had, save the one in my bank account, which was only enough to take care of my accommodation and feeding expenses for a month. Of course, I hoped to get a part time job that would keep me solvent in the long run.
The campus hostels offered the most affordable option for a new home but all bed spaces were already booked by the time I made a move. Thanks to Pascal – not his real name – a caring new friend I had met in my department, I moved from the inn to a Christian fellowship house. Pascal had noticed I always came late for lectures and concluded I must have been coming from a long distance. He approached me and advised I joined him at his fellowship. I could not reserve my happiness at that moment: I was spending a arm and a leg on transport fares from the inn to school and often ended up missing a lecture due to traffic jam; although, I had at the back of mind that it was just a strategy to make me attend their fellowship meetings. I expected the conditions of living in such a place not to be comfortable enough, which was the case when I moved in. I found there a number of students who were in the same situation as mine. We kept our luggage all in one place and slept in the meeting hall, at the mercy of mosquitoes. “I could not stay for too long”, I thought
One day, after lectures, I walked out of school in a bid to find a room up for rent. There were many storey buildings close to the main gate which offered shelter to hundreds of students. I got to one of them and enquired of one of its residents, the cost of renting a room. I was discouraged by his response:N100,000 a year! Nowhere near what I hoped for. I enquired again at two other buildings, then I gave up, there was definitely no room to rent below N100,000 a year. I was already returning to the fellowship house when u spotted a small placard that read: URGENT: I NEED A ROOMATE AT MAIN GATE. MALE ONLY. CONTACT: (…). I immediately dialed the number on my phone, thinking it was the only hope I had left. Julius, a guy with a nasal voice answered and a short conversation ensued. The following day, we met at the school refectory. He took me to the room into which he said had just moved and intended to share with me to attenuate the cost of rent. The room was practically empty, with just a frayed mat, rolled and leaning on the wall; a pair of polo shirts hanging on a nap driven into the wall and a backpack which was apparently Julius’ only luggage. He offered me water to drink and told me there was free water supply but the electricity fee was just N300 every month. We did not talk much, I was just too eager to move in, I had grown tired of the inconveniences I endured at the fellowship. I agreed to pay the sum of N20,000 which I transferred to his account the following day. When evening came, I picked my luggage which was already packed and headed to my new home. This is where the whole story turned sour. I got to the room and knocked but no one answered; I picked my phone and called Julius but no answer. I did not suspect anything until one lady who looked like in her fifties, asked me who I was looking for. I answered: Julius. Julius doesn’t live here anymore, she said. What do you mean?, I asked. The lady replied, with a frown on her face this time: He’s gone back to his state. He graduated last month, are you his colleague? I could not say a thing. I was stupefied at her words, and tried to convince myself it was a dream. I realized that I had been duped by Julius. I closed my eyes and opened them again hoping to find a different situation. I felt sore for days. Thank God for the brethren at the fellowship who, having heard about my plight, raised some funds to support me. If not for them, things could have been worse. I have not been able to meet or contact Julius again, till date.
This experience has thought me to be vigilant in every business or transaction I carry out.
Submitted by @ExxentrikAdonis the star prize winner of our sponsored #bookworm maiden edition