Late Justice Sogbetun estate, tenant battle over VI property

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read

The estate of a late jurist, and former judge of Ogun State Judiciary, Justice Solomon Sogbetun and a businessman, Godwin Omodu are currently enmeshed in a landlord- tenant controversy over the tenancy of a property that belonged to the late judge located at Plot 740(No 12c), Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Omodu, a tenant in the building accused his landlord’s family of threat to life, malicious damage to properties and unlawful removal of the entrance gate of his rented premises. He told the police that the family unlawfully removed the building’s roof and stole computers and money worth millions of naira, in a bid to unlawfully evict him.

But the family denied the accusation, saying nobody threatened Omodu’s life, adding that the tenant stubbornly refused to quit the premises despite breaching his tenancy agreement by overstaying in the flat for one year and violating hygiene regulations by raring goats on the premises.

Omodu made the claims in a January 7, 2022 petition to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police at Zone 2, Onikan, Lagos through his lawyer, Mr. F.S. Oladele.

He said: “On December 24, 2021 a woman suspected to be (a member of) the family of the owner of the property came around with four armed men to my office premises at the above address around 6:30pm. Unfortunately they could not meet me in the office but they beat mercilessly one of my staff and wounded him. Thereafter she (the woman) packed some of my properties outside the premises, locked up my flat which is my office specifically and padlocked the gate of the property and drove off with the key.”

He stated that when his rent expired in 2020 during the lockdown of COVID-19, he tried to renew it by paying the N2.5million rent, but his landlord’s children “rejected my money”. “The next thing to do was to give me quit notice of seven days which I was told I am titled to six months. He said he insisted on “his right” and declined to quit, following which “I was sued by the landlord’s children. The case has not been decided by the judge but these people have decided to take laws into their hand;

“On December 24, 2021, they brought three armed mopol (Mobile Police Officers) officers to compelled my staff to pack all our work equipment outside the premises, flogged and manhandled them with brute force and vocal oppression. On December 28, 2021, they employed the services of nearby construction workers and succeeded in removing the gate of the premises exposing us to vandals and burglars. They had my office and the premises locked and they scampered away with the keys. On December 29, they stormed in, broke the security post, destroying doors in the apartment and removing the windows. On January 30, 2022, around 8:30am, they removed the roof for the second time destroying the windows of the apartment, scattering the ceiling, removing the net from the windows and pilfering our gadgets, including our 10 Apple laptops and two Iphone 13. On December 31, 2021, they removed the roof of the apartment destroying the ceiling in the process.”

He said all of this happened despite a pending suit on the matter at the Eti-Osa Magistrate Court, filed by the family against him and which has been adjourned till March 3, 2022. He urged the police to investigate the matter and protect his rights.

A member of the Sogbetun family who identified herself as Lola, described Omodu as a troublesome tenant, and violator, who had gone about lying about the true situation. Lola stated that the Estate rented an apartment in the building to Omodu for a year, but he had already stayed for two years and refused to leave despite repeated demands by the Eatate.

She said the property in the upscale neighbourhood had become run down, following which the family informed all the tenants in the building of its intention to repossess it for comprehensive renovation. According to her, every tenant moved out after receiving a quit notice, except Omodu, who she claimed had frustrated every move to get him to leave peacefully, following which the Estate administrators took him to court in a bid to recover the premises.

She alleged that Omodu had visited the police in Victoria Island and environs in a bid to frustrate his eviction, adding that the police were tired of him.
On the allegation that the family threatened his life, Lola said: “He’s lying,” adding that the family comprised educated professionals who would do no one any harm over property.

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