Nigeria

Senate passes real estate regulatory bill to check fraud

The requests contained in three separate letters read at the beginning of plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. 3

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to establish the Real Estate Regulatory Council of Nigeria.

The Council when established would, amongst others, curb fraudulent practices to ensure that the real estate business confirms with the National Building Code in Nigeria.

The bill which scaled third reading during plenary is tagged: The Real Estate Regulatory Council of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2021.

The bill sponsored by Aliyu Wamakko (APC, Kebbi) was read for the first time on April 28, 2021, and a scaled second reading on June 22, 2021.

The passage of the bill on Wednesday followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Establishment and Public Service.

The report was laid during the plenary by the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

The real estate sector has been largely unregulated in Nigeria, a situation that has allowed unscrupulous developers to defraud homeowners who pay without being given houses.

Newsmen have reported multiple cases of homeowners who were left stranded for years after paying millions for homes that never came.

The problem is most common in the nation’s capital Abuja and the commercial centre, Lagos.

There is also the problem of the quality of houses delivered by developers to those who paid.

The new council, which needs the concurrence of the House of Representatives and presidential assent to become law, is also expected to check rising cases of collapsed buildings, another symptom of poor quality structures.

Nicholas Tofowomo, who presented the Senate report on behalf of the Committee Chairman, Ibrahim Shekarau, said the establishment of the Real Estate Council of Nigeria would provide efficient, effective and transparent administration of the business of real estate development in Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, the Council would be responsible for prescribing minimum standards for the conduct of the businesses of real estate development across the country.

He recalled that the bill seeking to establish the Real Estate Council of Nigeria was passed by both chambers of the eighth National Assembly, but was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the President’s decision to withhold assent to the bill was a result of certain observations raised by stakeholders at the time.

“Those observations have been taken care of in this report by the Committee following the engagement with stakeholders to ensure that real estate business in Nigeria confirms with the Money Laundering Act 2011 (as amended) and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2018 in terms of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing due diligence compliance,” Mr Tofowomo said.

He explained that when established, the Council would standardize the business of real estate by regulating the conduct of transactions; and provide enabling environment and transparency in the business of real estate development in Nigeria.

The lawmaker stated that it would also curb fraudulent practices to ensure that the real estate business confirms with the National Building Code in Nigeria; as well as create an innovative and sustainable environment to promote Nigeria as a real estate investment destination in Africa and the world.

Meanwhile, two bills seeking to establish the Federal Orthopedic Hospital, Patigi, Kwara State; and Federal University of Agriculture, Akure, Ondo State, have passed second reading in the Senate.

The bills were sponsored by Senators Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North) and Patrick Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central).

The bills after scaling the second reading were referred by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary on Wednesday to the Committees on Health (Secondary and Tertiary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further inputs.

Both Committees were given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.

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