Symbol of justice
An Ikeja Chief Magistrate’s Court has ordered a Lagos lawyer, Moses Olukayode Olatunji, to pay his landlord, Mrs. Olufunso Aderinola, a total sum of N583, 340, being the arrears of rent he owed between January 1, 2009 and February 19, 2010.
Chief Magistrate (Mrs.) Abimbola Komolafe also ordered Olatunji, a senior lecturer in Law at the Lagos State University, to pay to Mrs. Aderinola a Mesne profit at the rate of N41, 670 from March 1, 2010 until he finally yielded possession of the house.
The chief magistrate further awarded N2, 500 as cost of the action against the defendant in favour of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff, wife of veteran journalist Dapo Aderinola, headed for the court in April 2010 with a suit asking for the arrears of rent and possession from Olatunji, of a four-bedroom bungalow with a two-bedroom boy’s quarters and an orchard together with the appurtenances located at No 10 (Plot 688), Redemption Close, Omole Estate Phase Two, Ikeja.
Mrs. Aderinola said in her claim before the court that her grounds for possession also included personal use and that Olatunji had constituted a nuisance to occupants of surrounding apartments.
In her judgement, Komolafe noted that Olatunji, a pastor with the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, was “duly served with the writ personally” on May 14, 2010 by a sheriff of the state’s judiciary backed with an affidavit of service deposed to by the Sheriff of the Lagos State Judiciary, Odutemewo Adedeji.
The defendant, according to the judgement, appeared in court only once at the inception of the case on June 8, 2010, and was even represented by counsel.
“At a stage in the matter, parties agreed to settle out of court but it yielded no result until the defendant vacated possession without paying the arrears of rent owed the plaintiff,” she said. Thereafter, the plaintiff applied to prove the case on the arrears of rent left unpaid by the defendant, but the defendant failed to show up in court to defend the arrears,” she added.
Citing order 17 rule (5) of the Magistrate Court Laws of Lagos State, 2009, Komolafe said: “I have listened carefully to the plaintiff’s uncontroverted evidence which stands admitted.
“Based on order 17, rule (5) of the Magistrate’s Court laws of Lagos State 2009, if the defendant does not appear, the court may, upon proof of service and of facts entitling the plaintiff to the relief, give such judgement or make such orders as may be just.”