Everyone in Lagos is quick to tell you one story or another about a bad landlord, a wicked landlord, a shylock of a landlord. Nobody tells the story of terrible tenants. Tenants from the pit of hell.
My story is that of a terrible tenant who calls himself a pastor but who belongs to the darkest part of hell.
I had a 5 bedroom bungalow somewhere in the Ajah axis to let out. I put it up for rent and in matter of months, I got a prospective tenant. He was a pastor who’s church is in Ajah. I had never met him before nor heard about his church but I was assured by my agent that he was a man I could trust.
So, we came to an agreement. The pastor was meant to pay a total of N1.3 million plus agreement, caution, agency fee and all and he issued me a cheque for N1.3million and told my agent to present at the bank at the end of the month. It was about 2 weeks to month end. Due date was a Thursday and somehow, my agent missed the bank that day because of school runs.
Unfortunately for me, my mumu agent had also gone to give the pastor the key to the house. Although, at that time, I didn’t know it, the pastor moved in over the weekend. I was upset because I said, you gave him the key when his cheque has not cleared. The agent said he trusted him, that he is a pastor and he knows where is church is at in Ajah.
I said, oh ho.
The following day, Friday, he lodged the cheque in the bank; only to be told Monday evening that the cheque had bounced!
I was angry. I told him to call the pastor and tell him. How can you even give a dud cheque? Isn’t it a crime? And a sin.
We both began to call the pastor to tell him his cheque bounced; he didn’t pick our calls, for like one week, we called, we went to the house, we dropped messages for him at home because we never met him at home. Instead it was a fierce looking dog that barked like it had rabies that answered the three times we went there.
I personally called over 7 to 8 times, I sent about four text messages; none was replied and my calls were never returned.
The second week, I went to report the matter to the police; as soon as I mentioned the pastor’s name to the officer in charge, she looked up and said, ‘Ha madam, that man is a terrible person, why didn’t you do police check before renting out your house?’
So landlords should do police check on prospective tenants? I didn’t know!
I said, see me see wahala, o. I used my sweat to build this house and now someone wants to cheat me. He is living there without paying a dime!
So I begged the officer to help me.
She said they would try. I gave them the pastor’s mobile number and my house address so they could go and invite him to the police station for a chat.
Do you know the police went to the house to deliver the letter of invite which was signed by one of his children and yet, one week after, Pastor did not show up at the station! See me, o. I didn’t even know people can refuse to go and see the police if they get invited. I was shocked at his audacity.
I come tell myself, you don enter tenant trouble today. So who will help me?
All of these times, I never stopped calling or still trying to reach him. It’s not that his phone wasn’t ringing, he just didn’t pick the calls. Of course, you know, at this point, I wanted him out of my house. I didn’t even want the money anymore. All I wanted police to do was get him out!
Then one day in the third week, I went back to the police station because I was totally frustrated. I just didn’t know where else to turn to.
Fortunately for me, that day, I met the DPO. I just burst into tears, the man looked at me and said, ‘Madam, what is your problem?’ I told him all over again. Come and see how angry the DPO was. He said, in the first place, giving someone a dud cheque is criminal, secondly, why would he be invited and he won’t show up, another offence.
Oya madam, take us to the house!
My sister, the DPO used his personal car to follow us. Yes he took some escorts and these rode in a police van but that he came with me to get the pastor was just a miracle. I mean, you know all the bad things we say about the police. I didn’t give the DPO 10 kobo. He was just so angry at what he heard the pastor did.
Come and see my joy as I jumped into my car. The DPO led, the escort followed, I was last in the convoy in my jalopy. Of course, the house was empty save for his children. They said he was in church. The DPO said, let’s go there.
My sister, only God can help this country. Come and see the ramshackle, dirty, stinking place he calls a church in Ajah. There were thugs everywhere, they said they were ushers.
Ushers for where? These are thugs. There was a service going on, so the DPO said, we will wait. You know at this time, I was worried the man will say, oya madam, I don try for you because as soon as the thugs saw us, the police and all, they told us we couldn’t enter their church. The DPO said, we have come to see the pastor; they reluctantly let us in.
You know, I just told myself, ehen, so some people have the liver to prevent police from entering even church. Na wah o. I no sabi anything for Nigeria again o.
But the DPO waited with us…for two hours. The pastor was lying his dirty corrupt hands on people and they were believing his lies! Chai, God is patient!
After the service, the DPO told the thugs to tell the pastor he was waiting for him.
My sister, for another 20 to 30mins, Pastor no show. His thugs said he was in a meeting. I swear, the liver some people have in this country henh. Corrupt pastor, knowing why we were there, he had seen me and my agent, he knew the matter at hand, yet he was playing us like Ludo!
Anyway, finally Pastor came, DPO told him, you paid a dud cheque to this woman, it is a criminal offence, we need to go to the station to clear this.
Pastor began to talk like he was possessed. He said the cheque would clear soon, (after three weeks o) he didn’t know it was a dud cheque, he didn’t receive any text messages or phone calls, he didn’t see any letter of invite. Oga DPO said, follow us to the station to resolve this. Of course at this time, he had no choice but to follow us. That’s how we all trooped out and headed to the police station. Would you believe, as we were leaving, this pastor just picked his phone and called his lawyer to meet us at the police station!
Well, at the station, the DPO told him he would arrest him for dud cheque he issued, he told him that if it got to the court, there is no bail. That was when the pastor calmed down. Me, I just said, Oga DPO, tell him to move out of my house. I no do again. Please move out of my house.
Now, you know the Lagos state tenancy law favours the tenant? So the DPO told me I should calm down, If I want him out, I have to wait until several months later before he moves out and he will not pay a dime. He advised I let him pay one year and he moves out.
But how? This lying pastor?
Then his lawyer came; that one started talking, quoting this and that but when he heard the pastor issued a dud cheque, he calmed down. They both realized the Pastor messed up! Sharp, sharp, lying pastor issued another cheque for the full value after signing an undertaking with the police. He promised that the cheque will clear. Police said they will come for him if it doesn’t. That’s how I got my money o, I collected it at the counter but the pastor must leave my house after one year!
I don’t know what he tells his congregation. A pastor whose word is trash! He has a file at the police station for being a ‘terrible human being’ that was the expression the female officer used. So I am not the only one he has duped. Imagine if the DPO hadn’t taken this up? No bi wahala bi that? He would be living in a house he didn’t pay for.
Some pastors are from hell!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)