This is a case of harassment of a tenant by the Landlord in an attempt to illegally eject her from his apartment, victimization, intimidation, conspiracy, breach of human rights, dehumanization, inhuman treatment, breaking of Shop, stealing of goods and money, extortion by the police and compromise to pervert justice by the police.
My name is Esther and I am a hairdresser at No 1, Santos Avenue, Abule-Egba, Lagos. Since the year 2017 my Landlord Mr Bernard Adekunle Santos and my Landlord’s late elder brother’s wife called Iyalode have been harassing and victimizing me at my shop. They have indeed made life unbearable for me to the extent that I regretted ever renting shop from them. What happened is that the Landlord does not live in Abule-Egba but the Iyalode has a shop on that street near my shop. Their family has many shops in that area and since the Landlord doesn’t live in Abule-Egba, the Iyalode is the one that monitors whatever is going on in those shops and gives the information to the Landlord. I have always been paying my rent as at when due and I am a yearly tenant.
So sometime ago the Iyalode came to my shop and asked me to give her a weavon which costs over ten thousand naira for free and which I politely refused because that is where I make a living from and I cannot afford to give it to her for free. This is despite the fact that I used to make her hair for her free of charge. But still she was not satisfied. The Iyalode is fond of extorting money and goods from many shops and stalls on that street and even people who hawk pure water to make a living she will throw their goods away or inside the gutter if they are unable to give her whatever she wants from them. Since that day I refused to give her that weavon for free, she hated me and started conspiring against me and spoiling my name to everybody on the street. She now mobilized other shop owners against me to hate and tarnish my name without any reason. To the extent that whenever a customer comes to my shop to make hair and I’m not around and the customer decides to wait for me, they will spoil my name for the customer and direct the customer to another salon and tell the customer that I don’t know how to make hair.
When I ignored them they now conspired again in 2017 and cut off my electric wires out of malice and left me in darkness. The Iyalode conspired with one woman the call Iya Esther who also has a shop near me because she is a very close friend of the Iyalode and both of them cut off my electric wires and AC wires in 2017 and left me in darkness for about one month. Even when my Lawyer wrote them a letter on the 9th of May 2017 and asked them to return my costly wires which they maliciously cut off and took away, they never returned those wires till today. Despite all these, I left them to God and continued my business despite all the harassment from them.
So the Iyalode now started spoiling me for the Landlord and told him that I must leave that shop and that the Landlord should quit me. He and the Iyalode started harassing me to leave the shop. The Landlord used to come to my shop to harass me and sometimes he comes with thugs to threaten me. He earlier told me in February 2018 that he was ready to increase his rent in this 2018 and that the new shop rent would now be ten thousand naira per month but when I begged him he now agreed to collect eight thousand naira per month which is ninety six thousand naira per year.
So after the Landlord had agreed to collect eight thousand naira per month, shortly afterwards in the same February 2018 the Landlord came to my shop and called the Iyalode on the phone and put the phone on speaker right in the presence of the Iyalode’s daughter-in-law called Kenny as both the Landlord and Kenny were in my shop. So the Landlord now told the Iyalode on the phone that he had agreed to collect eight thousand naira but the Iyalode now told the Landlord on the phone (the phone was on speaker and I could hear her loud and clear) that they should quit me from that shop and that she doesn’t want me in that shop again and that she has someone who is on ground and who is willing to pay fifteen thousand naira per month for that shop and they will collect money for two years and also collect agent and agreement fees. Mind you the last rent I paid for 2017 was six thousand naira per month which was seventy two thousand naira per year as I pay on a yearly basis. So after that phone conversation the Landlord left and told me that he would abide by what the Iyalode told him which is for me to quit the shop.
On Wednesday 7th February 2018 at about 11am, the Landlord Mr Bernard Adekunle Santos came again to harass me at my shop and ordered me to go and apologize to Iya Esther whom I never offended in the first place. I was really surprised that he could ask me to go and apologize to someone who cut off and stole my electric wires alongside with the Iyalode. It was the height of humiliation and ridicule for me and I was so shocked that an old man like that who should have sound judgment could descend so low to support such evil by the Iyalode and Iya Esther. Mind you it was the same Iyalode who asked the Landlord to ask me to go and apologize to Iya Esther so that they could laugh at me that despite they cut off my light and stole my wires I still came to apologize to them! That was their plan. It is worthy of note that the Landlord is seriously being controlled and remote controlled by the illiterate Iyalode and whatever she tells him, he would do. That is the problem. They conspired to frustrate me in my shop and frustrate my business so that I can leave the shop for them yet I ignored them.
So the Landlord still insisted that I must leave his shop and he kept coming every time to threaten me with thugs in my shop. One day he came and told me that if I don’t leave his shop peacefully he will make sure I leave the shop by force. The Iyalode also kept threatening me and said the same thing. I kept begging the Landlord but he refused. To the extent that one day when he came to threaten me in my shop, I was begging him and crying and shedding tears and I knelt down beside him and my two year old boy having seen the way I knelt down and was crying he too knelt down beside me and held the Landlord’s leg but the Landlord just pushed me and my son away in anger and walked away. He never gave me any quit notice but he kept coming to threaten and harass me in my shop even sometimes in the presence of my customers.
So on Wednesday 23rd May 2018, the Landlord Mr Bernard Adekunle Santos at about 3.30pm came to the shop with thugs and they broke my door, he removed the door and went away with it thereby exposing all my property and all the goods in my shop. As a result, they stole goods and money worth over nine hundred and ninety four thousand, eight hundred and fifty naira. I was not in the shop when this happened. My sales girl Balikis who was around was so shocked and was afraid they might harm her so she had to rush to get recharge card to call me but before she could come back they had already stolen a lot of goods and money from my shop. That place is in the bus stop and a very busy bus stop with a lot of human and vehicular traffic.
On same day we reported the matter at Area “G” police command Ogba, Lagos and he was invited to come to the station alongside with Iyalode and Iya Esther but they refused to come to the station until Monday 28th May 2018. On that Monday 28th May 2018, the three of them came to the station, namely the Landlord Mr Bernard Adekunle Santos, the Iyalode and Iya Esther. The landlord initially in his statement to the police denied breaking the shop & removing the door but when we produced the girl (Balikis) who was a witness and who was there when he removed the door, he now accepted that he actually removed the door.
The officers now took all of us to the Area Commander’s office and the Landlord equally confessed that he removed the door to the shop. Mind you on the same day the Landlord broke my door when I reported to the police that evening with tears in my eyes and as my Shop and goods were still exposed, I was really surprised that the woman ASP, by name ASP Sholape at that Area “G” Ogba told me that I must pay her before she could go to visit the shop to inspect it. This is despite she knew the pains I was going through at that moment and all the things I’ve lost. So she collected five thousand naira from me that evening before she went with me and alongside with one Inspector Okolie (alias “Abuja”) to inspect the shop that evening. When we got there that evening we didn’t meet the Iyalode as she had closed for the day. So the following day we went back there with Inspector Okolie to serve them the police invitation letter and right in the presence of the police, the Iyalode’s first son by name Dare Santos threatened that he is going to use charms to make me blind. They keep threatening me and up till now my life is not safe anymore as I live in fear because I know what these people can do because they are very diabolical and many people are afraid of them in Abule-Egba.
On Tuesday 29th May 2018, we met at the station again and they were pleading with us not to charge the matter to court which we refused and they were also trying by all means to compromise the police. On Friday 1st June 2018 we were at the station again and the Area Commander ordered that the matter should be charged to court on Monday 4th June 2018. But I never knew that the police had already compromised my case and never had any intention of charging them to court but were only interested in us settling it at the station so that they would not lose whatever the suspects must have promised them to ensure they step the case down from going to court by all means.
On Wednesday 6th June 2018, we went to invite the witness Balikis to the station as requested by the Area Commander but her mother and grandmother whom she stays with refused to allow her to follow us to the station and said that the Iyalode has been threatening Balikis and threatening all of them ever since Balikis came to the station to testify against her (Iyalode) and against the Landlord Mr Bernard Adekunle Santos. Mind you it was the same threats that made her stop work and returned my keys to me immediately after she came to testify against the Iyalode and the Landlord at the station. I have evidence of everything recorded with my Lawyer and including their voices and we will tender it at the appropriate time. Also since the Iyalode has been threatening Balikis, they now succeeded to get her on their side in connivance with the ASP Sholape who is now on the side of the suspects after having been compromised, they now made Balikis to come to the station on Thursday 7th June 2018 and made her to write in her statement that she was there all through the time the Landlord removed the door and went away with it. They are trying to exonerate the Landlord and the Iyalode from the goods and money which were stolen from my shop. But we have recorded evidence of when the girl Balikis said she was not there when they went away with the door and we will tender all the evidence both audio and pictures at the right time to all Nigerians who are interested in this case for justice to be done on this matter because I have suffered so much in the hands of these people.
On Friday 8th June 2018, The Area Commander refused to charge the matter to court after having been asked not to approve the matter to be charged to court by the ASP, ASP Sholape, who had all along been compromised by the suspects after she went to Abule-Egba to have a meeting with the suspects and their sympathizers. The police kept me waiting at the station from 8.30am till 5pm on that day even when they knew they had already conspired to frustrate me over the matter. When I became tired of waiting, I went to see the Area Commander in his office and he told me that the landlord has not committed any offense by breaking my door and stealing my goods and money. I was so shocked and surprised that a senior police officer in the rank of an Area Commander can be supporting crime and criminality just because he has been compromised by the Iyalode and the Landlord. I was so shocked and couldn’t believe my eyes because this is the same person who had earlier ordered the matter to be charged to court but because ASP Sholape who had all along been compromised by the suspects and had in turn compromised the Area Commander too and therefore the ASP took it upon herself to make sure that the suspects are not charged to court. I have with my Lawyers all the evidence including evidence to show when ASP Sholape was blasting, insulting and ridiculing my Lawyer in the presence of the suspects after she had been compromised. I also have the recorded audio evidence when the Area Commander said that he can’t charge the matter to court and that the Landlord and the Iyalode have not committed any offence and that they have the right to break and remove my door. The Area Commander said this after having been compromised and we will tender all the evidence to all Nigerians at the appropriate time because we want justice to be done on this matter.
I have been humiliated, I have been oppressed, I have been intimidated and harassed for too long by the Landlord and the Iyalode and I kept quiet just for peace to reign but this time around they have pushed me to the wall. Their intention was to wreck me and my business down so that I can become a beggar but my God will not allow it. My Shop was without any door for two days after they broke the shop and as I was running to police station for the case, I was still rallying round to fix the door and finally bought another iron door and fixed it two days later. I call on all Nigerians and the police as well as all the security agencies to come to Abule-Egba to investigate everything that I’ve said. It has been so traumatic for me. They have put me through so much pain and suffering. But they are still threatening me up till now and my life is not safe. All I want is for justice to be done and for the Iyalode and the Landlord to be brought to book. I want to appeal to the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to come to my aid and ensure that the Iyalode and the Landlord are brought to book because they have boasted that they have connections and that nothing will happen to them. The law does not allow self help and the Lagos State tenancy law does not allow any Landlord to use illegal means to eject a tenant so I’m surprised that the Area Commander is justifying illegality.
I equally appeal to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgar Imohimi to come to my aid on this matter to ensure justice is done because I have lost hope in the ability of the police at Area “G” Ogba to handle this case as they have been seriously compromised including the Area Commander who is now supporting criminality alongside with ASP Sholape. I think that any police officer who does not know his job as a police officer and who supports crime and perverts the course of justice should be shown the way out of the police force because they have failed to do their job accordingly.
I equally call on all Human Rights groups in Nigeria and all well meaning Nigerians to lend their voice and come to my aid for justice to be done on this matter because I’m hurting badly. I’m already losing hope in Nigeria.
By Human Rights Activist Tayo Demola