By Fred Iwenjora
Mrs. Olufunke Olawuanle Oladapo is a big example of a human wreck. To say she is in distress is an understatement.
I ran into the 63 years old retired teacher at a business complex in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos. As she circumnavigated the complex twice clutching her phone on one hand and handbag on the other, I was forced to ask what was amiss. She was looking for a lawyer urgently. She said she saw a sign post outside directing her and came into the complex.
I directed her to one of the chambers within the compound which was under locks at the time. However, I suggested that she could take the telephone numbers displayed to contact them.
She went closer to the office but quickly turned back to me saying she could not read the letters as they were tiny even as her sights were cloudy. I offered to assist again and went closer to help her read the numbers. That was when I perceived the tension boiling inside Mrs. Oladapo. She was seething in anger, breathing too high and almost choking. I dragged a lone chair nearby and asked her to sit down first before asking why she was choking. I am not a medical doctor but I know someone who is in real agony when I see one. Here’s her sorrowful and very pathetic tale.
“I don’t want to bore you all with my long tale but if you are patient, you will definitely understand my sad story” she heaved a loud sigh.
“I got married to Adewale Oladapo, a civil engineering contractor at the Ijebu Ode Marriage Registry on 30th of August 1980 so it will be 38 years this August. I was a teacher at Government Technical College Idi Aba, Abeokuta at that time and he told me he just returned from Germany. We had met in 1979 through his step brother. (she brandished her marriage certificate)
A year after the marriage, my husband revealed to me that he had fathered a son when he was in class five at Ahmadiya College Ibadan with a female student of St Theresa’s Ibadan. He said the woman had already remarried with other children and that the child was staying with his grandparents at FESTAC Town in Lagos.
At the time, we lived at No; 13 Akinbaye street Isolo near the Obas palace, close to Akinbaye primary school where I was a teacher. My husband was then working at Nigeria Engineering Works(NEW) Ikoyi. He was later to bring in his son Oladayo Oladapo to live with us and he was enrolled at Ire Akari school. Dayo became my son and I became popular as his mum, Iya Dayo.
I recall one Saturday morning while I was washing clothes, a post man came with a letter saying we had won a three bedroom apartment at Block 11, flat 3 Iponri Low cost estate, Surulere. We had been processing for it when Lagos state called for it. I went with my husband to inspect it. We had applied when it was advertised. We completed the acquisition process, did the interiors of the flat, furnished it and moved in. I got inter school transfer from Isolo while Dayo was later enrolled at Eric Moore High School. Some years later, while the Lagos Marketing Board was building and allocating shops at the Iponri market again we were lucky to get two allocations as both our applications were approved. My husband used his shop as office where he sold paint as well as a business center while I used mine to sell drinks.
He also later started building and later completed a 4 bedroom duplex, two 3-bedroom flats and a Boys Quarters at No 6 Adeleye close off Popoola bus stop Ago, Okota, Isolo.
After many years of marriage my husband started worrying about my childlessness. Peace left the house as he complained ceaselessly. Quarrel was a daily affair
News also started flying about his involvement with another woman named Bola who later bore him a daughter Yetunde.
My problems started when my husband died on November 18, 2003. It will be fifteen years this year. The first person I called when the sad event happened was Dayo, my stepson who had moved out of the house by then and he reached his uncle that is my husband’s elder brother Alhaji Tunji Oladapo. They both knew he was ill before then and also joined in the care for him. Alhaji Tunji came to ask for all his documents in the house. He ransacked the house and took all documents he could reach including carrying away our generator.
He said he had exclusive rights over my brother’s property because since their parents died, he was the one who raised him and sent him to school. He said since he was the one responsible for his education, he is his next of kin.
After my husband’s burial at the property at Ago, Alhaji took over the management of the property. He warned the tenants of the house not to pay rent to any other one other than himself. He told Dayo and his sister Yetunde that for being the most senior, he was in charge of everything including the property at Ago until they were of age. He told them they would get allowances yearly from his management. He also put up a big NOT FOR SALE notice and went away. Yet nothing for me. He managed the system for seven years
I still lived alone at our Iponri flat with my late husband’s photos to keep me company until after my mourning period when I had to invite a young cousin of mine to live with me.
But this lonely peace was not to be for long. “One day I returned from school to see my cousin crying outside. By her side were my entire belongings all scattered and thrown outside. I could hear voices of some men inside my apartment and smells of Indian hemp and incense everywhere. When I summoned courage to knock on the door, it was Dayo who answered me that he was advised by his Uncle to come and dislodge me and take over the apartment. According to him, he had called on his uncle to give him a flat at the property at Ago since he was having accommodation problems but was told to go and eject me at Iponri. I collapsed on the floor and shed tears. I called on my late husband to come and save me from this persecution. I slept on the stair case and wore same clothes for three days before the Police waded into the matter.
Alhaji was invited. At the station he was asked why they were maltreating me and he said the family was yet to share assets and that he would call me when that was set. Alhaji and Dayo then followed me to the house and packed up some of my property in a Ghana must go bag. Both of them saw me down the staircase and Alhaji paid the taxi saying he would notify me when to come and carry the rest of my property.
Dayo who now assumed the role of Olori ebi, head of family and his thugs who came to eject me occupied my flat for three months. He later rented it out and continues to enjoy the benefits from the rent till date.
It was not long after that he relieved his uncle of the task of managing the property. He took it all over including the 4 bedrooms Duplex, the 3 bedroom flat and 2 bedroom flat, the BQ as well as the 2 shops at Iponri shopping center which was assigned to us by the Lagos state marketing Board.
He then went ahead to share the property himself. He took the apartment at Iponri, also took the 4 bedroom duplex and then gave me the top floor 3 bedroom flat at the back while the lower 2 bedroom flat as well as one of the shops went to his step sister Yetunde. He also kept the BQ saying proceeds from it would be used to service the property.
You could just imagine how these people have been sitting on and enjoying the sweat and investment my husband and I made in life without considering me. They are sharing and enjoying all the benefits while I continue to squat from one friend to the other. They were not there when I was going about to the marketing Board and LSDPC to process the low cost apartment. They were not there when we were building Ago duplex but they have thrown me away like rag just like that.
“My fear now is that Dayo is plotting to take away from me that 3 bedroom flat he said was my inheritance. He has been going to the tenant on that flat to harass and terrorize him and family. If he succeeds in doing that, it would mean that I have lost all I labored for in this world. I even fear for my life too.
“My plea is that President Buhari, Governor Ambode of Lagos, Chief Justice of the Federation, Chief Judge of Lagos and all well thinking people of the world including human rights organizations to see the kind of injustice towards me by my step son and his family over my husband’s properties in the past fifteen years. I am not denying Dayo and Yetunde as my husband’s children and wonder why even though the Oladapo family are not denying me as one and only wife of their son Adewale why should they be supporting my disinheritance from my husband’s estates? I want a judicious sharing of the estates of my husband so that I benefit from what we both worked hard to acquire. Does the law not recognize a bona fide wife in the administration of estates? Ohhh!
“I have been totally dehumanized and traumatized since the death of my husband. This month of August 2018 marks the 15 years of my husband’s death and by November, it will be 38 years of our wedding. But I was ejected, physically thrown out without any considerations. I have not known peace. Life has been a hell for me that I have lived at the mercy of the church; Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry and other well meaning Nigerians.
I was of the Foursquare church but my husband who was originally a Muslim got healing at Mountain of Fire so we joined the church years before his death. My BP is high as well as other health conditions caused by the harrowing experience I have been subjected. God once saved me from near depression because there is no rest of mind. Is it because I bore no children? (she starts to sob again, this time inconsolably causing the interview to end).