What I want Nigerians to do for me is help me; I am a single mother of a 15 year old boy and an 11 year old daughter; my landlord removed my things from the house I rented from him through the help of police and some people and I have been sleeping on the floor with my children after they put all three of us in jail! Yes, he jailed my 11 year old, my 15 year old son and myself….all because I won’t agree to his advances. Is this how people who have no name suffer in this country?
Let me start by telling you how we got here.
I rented a two bedroom flat at Ajuwon area of Akute from Mr. Lateef, that’s his name. He is in his 60s, I think. I rented the apartment in December of 2018. You know they say you should rent during rainy season so you know the kind of house you are renting? I was desperate to move on with my life when my husband dumped me and my kids, so I took the house only to realize in April, when the rains began that we practically had no roof to prevent rain from flooding us in our rooms.
So I began to call the landlord for help to fix the roof; before then there were so many things that needed to be fixed in that house that I had taken up to do without bothering the landlord but a roof was too much for me to handle. For instance, whereas everyone in the building had prepaid meter, my apartment had no meter. I begged the landlord to please get me one so I would stop paying crazy bills.
At the beginning of our interactions, the landlord promised to fix the roof, promised to get me the meter, promised to fix the doors and the many things in the house…but his promise would come at a price.
I had no reason to suspect at the beginning that the man was interested in sleeping with me. I just thought he was being nice.
But the frequency of his visits and calls began to get to me because, all he wanted to know was if I was interested in being his woman, that would be the basis of him doing certain things for me.
He told me himself; he began by first visiting me at the apartment; he would knock on the door to inquire how we were settling down.
He would come to say, he just came to see me…
He would come to just stand and talk about things I had no interest in…
I am a grown woman, I knew where he was going so one day, I told him, “Baba landlord, I am not interested in anything with you. I am just concerned about taking care of my children. After what my husband did to me, Baba, please, I am not interested.”
Then he told me the only reason he gave me the house was because he thought we would have a relationship; he said, “I don’t give my houses to single women, it’s because I like you, I thought we could…you know? …that I gave you but if you can’t accept my condition, you have to leave my house.”
I said, “What condition? To start sleeping with you? Baba, it can’t happen, o.”
But he kept coming to me and I kept saying no.
Then he said I should leave his house and that was around May or June of 2019; my rent would expire in December of same year.
After that, he began to paste eviction notices on the walls of the building; though none was given to me. I stopped opening the door for him anytime he came to knock on my door because I knew it was to drag whether he had the right to enter my apartment or not.
Then he took me to court! He took me first to Ajuwon police station, then later to court. Thankfully, I had records of text messages to him asking him to fix things in the house and his responses promising to do so…of course, he never did; I had evidences of videos, that I had made, telling him about the leaking roof, the damages done to my property as a result and his promise to fix them. I tendered all in the court and won the case; Baba was asked to fix the house as he promised. But it was no victory for me because he still insisted had to leave his house.
He came several times to tell me I had to leave, telling me he would give me the rest of my rent and that I should go and at this time, the trouble was too much, I was willing to leave. Who wants to stay in a house where there’s no peace of mind? A house that leaks and the light bill is always on the upside as against the rest of the other tenants? But I was waiting for him give me back my money so I could leave.
Baba didn’t, instead, he kept telling me to leave.
Unknown to me, he had gone to another court at Ifo to report me as a tenant who refused to leave his house. They came to my house to harass me and my children and I said to them, we went to court in Ajuwon and the magistrate said the Landlord should fix the house, he hasn’t done that.
I said was ready to leave but landlord had to do his bit as the court had ordered.
You’re asking why I stayed for so long in the house?
You know court cases are back and forth, Covid lock down also didn’t help matters you know, during lockdown and afterwards, life didn’t happen like before; I had no money to start again, with my two children, I had to find what to give them to eat and all of that, I was hoping Baba would pay me but time went and…
So that’s why we remained in Baba’s house.
Ok, so as I was saying. One day, in April of this year, 2022; in the morning around maybe 7pm; I had just finished in the bathroom, I hadn’t worn my undies, when some police men came from the court and began to pack my things out of the house.
I was shocked and trying to appeal to them; telling them that the case was still in court, they rough handled me and pushed me away. You know I told you I was still in my towel, I had just left the bathroom when this happened. It was in the process that my 15 year old son saw how they were treating because I had no idea Baba had taken me to another court. The police came, threw us out of the house. My 15 year old stood in front of the police manhandling me and begged them to leave me alone, the beat him and put him in handcuffs. My 11 year old daughter too was crying, refusing to let them take me, she too was bundled into the police vehicle and we were all taken to the police station where we spent two weeks in police cell, me and my children!
The sad part was that, the police accused my son of beating a police woman, this isn’t true. He was trying to shield me from being rough handled. We were charged to court and the three times our case came up, the police didn’t show up. This tells you all they wanted to achieve was have me and my children locked up! Why didn’t they come before the judge to say my son beat a police woman?
My children missed school, they missed their exams too. Eventually, when the judge saw that the police were not showing up in court for their case she struck it out and dismissed me and my children.
I went back to the house to find my things had been confiscated by the landlord! I went to him for them but he turned me back, saying I should go back to the court to get a paper of release for my own things!
After going back and forth, his lawyers asked me to go and beg him. I said, “Beg him for what? He has taken my stuff, put me and my children in jail and I should go beg him?”
My sister, after three weeks sleeping on the floor of an office that one of my friends let us into, I became sick and knew that if I didn’t get help, I would just die. So I went to beg the landlord and he still refused to release my things for me.
One month and a few days after, he released my things to me…what is left, he didn’t store them in a safe place, the rain and sun had done damage to my tv…all my electronics…. I am glad I was able to get some of my stuff back, my certificates for instance but most of the items, clothes, iron…all gone bad from exposure to rain and sun. I am sick in body and spirit, not to talk of the trauma my children suffered in jail! a 15 year old and and 11 year old, for what? Did we rob a bank or kill anyone?
I need help. I have realized I have no power or money to fight the landlord, so, I will cut my losses and move on and take care of myself and children, I want Nigerians to help me, though.