Widow Slams N100m Suit On Landlord


A Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, has reserved judgment till 20 October, 2011, in a N100 million suit instituted by a Lagos widow, Mrs. Ngozi Okoye, against her landlord, Chief Emmanuel Umeoha.

The widow is claiming the said sum as exemplary and aggravated damages against her landlord as a result of unlawful violation of her fundamental right.

Also joined as co-respondents in this fundamental right enforcement suit are the Inspector General of Police, Lagos State Commissioner of Police and a woman police, Ruth Hunga.

According to an affidavit sworn to by Mrs. Okoye and filed before the court by a human rights lawyer, Barrister Allen Agbaka, the deponent averred that as the breadwinner of her family, having lost her husband on the day she gave birth to her only daughter, she is a tenant at 18, Opere Street, Coker, Lagos, where she has as a shop.

However, on 26 September, 2009, she received a telephone call from her daughter that some strange persons led by Chief Umeoha, her landlord, were breaking the door of her shop, damaging and carting away her goods without her consent.

Consequently, she went there to see things for herself and inquired from her landlord what could have been responsible for his action since she has been paying her rent regularly. Instead of any positive response, she alleged that she was wrestled to the ground by some thugs suspected to have been hired by the landlord, while one Abraham Fakorede, a photographer now deceased, was ordered to take her photographs and that of the shop.

Since she was unable to curtail the situation, she lodged a formal complaint at Orile Police Station, but before then, according to her, some of the goods were removed and the shop locked.

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Nevertheless, the case was recorded at the station, while she made a statement to the police.

However, the deponent was surprised when her landlord made a false allegation against her that she damaged the camera of the photographer and consequently, the investigating police woman, Ruth Hunga, pressurised her to sign an undertaking to replace the allegedly damaged camera which she refused and the Divisional Police Officer of the station ordered that she should be charged to court for an offence she did not commit. Thereafter, she said she was detained but later granted bail but after she was intimidated, tortured, beaten and physically assaulted by the police officers at Orile Police Station.

The applicant further averred that due to the maltreatment she received from his landlord on 26 September, 2009, she was rushed to hospital on two occasions due to heavy bleeding, while lost a pregnancy 5 November, 2009 and to prove this, she filed a copy of medical report before the court.

Consequent upon this development, she instituted a legal action against the respondent at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, but was struck out for none appearance of both parties.

Since then, she said, her landlord has variously and consistently caused her arrest and detention at the Inspector General of Police’s office annex at Kam Salem House, Moloney Street, Lagos.

In view of these, while claiming N100 million as exemplary and aggravated damages jointly and severally against the respondent, she urged the court to declare as unlawful the forceful damage and confiscation of her property without any court order.

She also urged the court to restrain the respondent and his agents from further violating her fundamental human right unless in a manner permitted by law.

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