By Uju Mbanusi
A 34-year-old woman has cried out for justice sequel to her forceful eviction from an apartment she was occupying with her husband at Festac town, Lagos.
According to the Imo State-born woman identified as Rachael Nwosu, the incident happened between 7 to 7:30am on Friday, September 4, 2013, when three men reportedly knocked on her door at No 311, B close, Festac town; not suspecting any thing, she opened the door only to be confronted by some men who told her they had a court order to eject her from the premises.
The housewife who bluntly objected to her photograph being used because of perceived threats to her life stated; “It happened that on Friday, 4th of September, when there was heavy rain, I was inside with my husband Francis Nwosu, when three men knocked on our door in the morning between 7 to 7:30 am , I opened the door and saw about 10 men who said they were from the court to eject us.
I asked them why didn’t the court give us a notice which suppose to be the procedure to enable us move out? They said they had come to take over the house, that our landlord Emmanuel Ekanem was not the owner of the house. I told them I was not interested in the case of house ownership, but they should have allowed us to move out, instead of disgracefully throwing us out under the rain.
”They threw out everything under that rain, there was a lot of damages to my property. As I am talking to you, I don’t have anywhere to lay my head. I can’t even give account of where my belongings are, because it is only when you’ve saved your head that you worry where your about your property are. The men said it was a Lieutenant Colonel that sent them to throw us out. We don’t know him as our landlord, so I don’t know the offense we committed that would make him send people to eject us without notice.
“Our landlord that we know is Emmanuel Ekanem. My concern is that there was no notice. If the court had given an order, there ought to be a notice so that we know where to put our head, then if he has anything to settle, he should go ahead and settle it. That day, some of our properties were stolen, the only money we had at home then was also stolen. I am just recovering from the shock. Immediately, we were ejected from the house, they put in another occupant, some new occupants are there now,” she said.
A man who claimed to be the genuine landlord of the house Emmanuel Ekanem, told Crime Guard that he owned the property located at number 311, B close, Festac town- Lagos. He narrated how he purchased the said property in 2008. “I bought that property from the lieutenant Colonel, he gave me a ‘Deed of Assignment, Power of Attorney and an affidavit, telling me the documents to the property were lost. I paid the agreed sum which was N6.5m. I have the receipts, I have my documents also.
”In 2009, I noticed some foul play in that the main document he ought to give me was missing out. He had instructed the Implementation Committee to send the original document to ‘Savings and Loans’. In order words, he used these documents to mortgage. When I discovered this abnormality, I called him, he refused to respond, I then told my lawyer to do a letter to him and he started threatening me. I went to his military division office then at Yaba to report him. I did a letter to SID. After investigation, they told him that ‘the property in question was mine, that he should prepare a document to me, and that the issue of threat to my life should cease. I have a letter to prove the threats to my life.
”We went to ‘Multi-Dor court but they could not settle us, they asked us to go to a higher court. Until when my tenant called me that they threw their belongings out. Also I wasn’t served the said letter from the Customary court, which they used to throw out my tenant, so it was just a charade. They threw out my tenants and immediately they moved one of their agents in the person of Ben Ekpo into my premises. He was among the agents who received the N6.5 million I paid to purchase the house on behalf of the lieutenant colonel.
”I want to let Nigerians know what I am passing through. Is it because I am a civilian that a military man of his caliber would do such a thing? I paid for that house in 2008. I was his tenant, and I paid for the property. When I moved into that house, they gave me an offer letter, that he wanted to sell. I have all the documents in respect to this,” he lamented.
When contacted on phone, the Lieutenant Colonel told Crime Guard that there was a court injunction which backed his actions.“Don’t let him take you into what you don’t know, there was a court injunction to that; the matter is in court. You will have to speak to my lawyer,” he said.
Later on, a man who identified himself as Victor Chinedu, counsel to the Colonel called and told Crime Guard that he would call back concerning the case. About three hours, another caller who identified himself simply as Ekanem, another counsel to the Colonel called to say that “Emmanuel Ekanem was just parading himself as owner of the property,adding that the Police is investigating the matter. My client borrowed money from him to return later. The Police will investigate the matter. We have sent the documents for forensic investigations. The man was the Colonel’s tenant and friend for years,” Ekanem explained.
Incidentally, the agrieved woman rushed to Vanguard Headquarters to complain the next day that after she narrated her plight, some people threatened to make life difficult for her if the story was published. According to the visibly frightened woman, “On Tuesday, September 8h, 2013, at 23 road, Festac town, around 5pm, three men on suit stopped and told me that they heard we had taken the case to the press, that they would make life difficult for us, that they would make Nigeria hot for us and that they would hunt us to the grave. I am therefore, appealing to the relevant security agencies to intervain on our behalf. I don’t know the crime we committed in this matter, I know that God will fight for us.”