LAWYERS4CHANGE

Sunday, November 9, 2008

LAWYER IN SELF HELP SCANDAL

On Saturday 1st November, one Mr. Oladapo Ajibola and his wife Abosede Oladapo came to meet the Squib with a complaint against a Lagos based legal practitioner, Mr. Olusegun Raji.
According to the couple, Raji had instigated and joined a group of thugs on Friday 31st October 2008 to conduct illegal and forcible evictions in a house known as no 3, Gbadamosi Street, Oke-Koto Agege, Lagos. The couple who claimed to be eye-witnesses to the alleged invasion of the property by Barrister Olusegun Raji and his men, painted a very vivid picture of the incident and which they said eventually led to the arrest and detention of the lawyer by the police at the Elere Police Station Agege.
In the judgement of this magazine, the complaint bothers not only on the commission of a crime but on professional miscondeuct on the part of Olusegun Raji Esq and therefore deserving of an urgent investigation.
From about 10.00am on 1st November 2008, the Squib made serious efforts to speak with Barrister Segun Raji but communication was only established at about 10.30p.m. According to Raji it was only then that the text message sent to him since about 2.00pm got to him. He denied in part and confirmed in part some of the claims and allegations of the Ajibolas.
The Squib also spoke with Police Corporal Akai of the Elere Police Station who is the I.P.O of the case. Please read on.

STATEMENT OF OLADAPO AJIBOLA:
“Some years ago, I had an agreement with the owner of the property at 3, Gbadamosi street, Oke-Koto Agege, One Mrs. Ojuolape Ajose who is now late.
As at that time, 1999, there was only like one boy's quarters at the back of the property while the rest was just slightly raised above foundation level. The plan of the house then as I met it indicated that what they wanted there was a flat but I reconstructed it to become what it is today, a bungalow of ten rooms and a shop.
My agreement with the old woman was that when I finished building the house, we'll both sit down and calculate for how many years I will use the property and hand it over. Unfortunately the woman died. Also her own children, all five of them are living outside Nigeria. But some of the grand children are here and they are the ones giving all this problem.
They don't want to sit down with me to discuss the handover, which is how and when it shall be. They just want to take over the house without compensating my investment there.
I am not the owner of the property but I developed it and I have interest in it. In 2002 I told them, the grandsons to pay me N700, 000 to cover the cost of development but they refused. Rather it has been one case after the other, therefore raising my cost the more. Because of legal fees and other expenses. It is getting close to 2 million naira now. I took some of the people I put in the property as tenants to court (Magistrate Court 9 Ogba) and I got judgements in respect of them. I got the judgement on 29th August 2008 and on the Monday 27th October 2008, I levied a proper execution on two of the tenants. On Wednesday 29th October 2008, I put new tenants Abdusalam Olatunji and Sunday Ajibare into the two rooms. When I evicted the old tenants, one of them reported me to the police. The police investigated the matter and found out that both the judgement I got and the execution were valid and so they left me alone.
I was at SCID Panti on Friday 31st October 2008 in respect of one of the cases I had with these grandsons of the late owner when I received a call from my wife that she received information that Ademola Arogundade and his two brothers (grandchildren of late Mrs. Ojuolape Ajose) were coming with thugs to break open the two rooms where the two new tenants had packed into.
I hurried down. About ten minutes after I came home, the three brothers came and started breaking the doors. I challenged them telling them that there was a court order on the two apartments but they ignored me.
About five minutes later, lawyer Raji came in a red jeep with about six other people. Within some minutes about fifteen other thugs came to join them. One of my own supporters was slapped twice and Raji's thugs wanted to beat the other two of my people and injure them but lawyer Raji appealed to them not to beat anybody again. He was saying “No, no ko to yen, ko to yen. E kan ko eru won jade ni.” (Don’t go that far. Don’t beat anybody juste pack out the loads of those people). In fact I heard him speaking on phone to some one saying “Don't bring more people from the base. It is not necessary.” At that point my wife addressed him saying “se lawyer leyinyi na sa. Le n pe toogi” (Sir are you really a lawyer, a lawyer using thugs?) The thugs obeyed him and started bringing out my tenants' properties and throwing them out. Nobody could resist them. At any rate some of the thugs had chased me into my own apartment and tore the net of my window. Infact the thugs wanted to evict me too, saying I was a nuisance but lawyer Raji followed them and called them away from my apartment.
Then lawyer Raji and the thugs went away. Two of the three Arogundade brothers now went back to the two rooms of the tenant and started to secure them with padlocks. That was when I came out of my room and got neighbors to challenge them. We arrested them and took them to Elere Police Station, to hand them over to the police.
To my surprise, I met lawyer Segun Raji already lodging a complaint against me there. At first the police did not even want to listen to me at all. But when I openly told them that there was a court order in the case, they began to change their attitude. Eventually the matter was taken to the (DPO, Chief Superintendent of Police Lateef Adebisi) who interviewed both Segun Raji, myself and the Arogundade brothers.
At a point the D.P.O started asking the Inspector there whether lawyer Raji was actually a lawyer, because the D.P.O found it difficult to believe that a lawyer would be involved in forceful eviction, more so in the presence of a court order.
In front of the D.P.O, Raji said two of the Arogundade brothers (the one I arrested) were tenants whom he instructed to move into the two rooms. The D.P.O was very disappointed and ordered the detention of lawyer Raji and the three Arogundade brothers, because according to the D.P.O “Nobody is above the law”
Raji now started begging the D.P.O claiming that he had a sick son whom he had to take to the hospital urgently. He showed the D.P.O his sick son a small boy of about six with a swollen cheek. The D.P.O then allowed him to go on bail but the three brothers were detained.
The police said we should report to the station at 9.00am the next day. When I reported to the police stations the next day, lawyer Raji did not show up even though I saw him in his car which was parked some one hundred meters away from the police station.
I told the police about this, but they did nothing about it. Rather they released the Arogundade brothers on bail and ordered them to go back to the house and open the two rooms they locked up yesterday. They did that in the presence of the I.P.O of the case, Police Corporal Akai. The police said we should all come back on Monday 3rd November”.

BARRISTER OLUSEGUN RAJI
“There is no truth in the claim that I led thugs to break into some rooms and forcibly evict people.
You see the problem is one guy Ajibola who calls himself a developer who is parading himself about as the owner of the house. He is being fully backed in this by Mr. Adejare Kembi, his lawyer. This Ajibola has driven away the owners of the property.
Ajibola is claiming that the mother of my own client, late Mrs. Ajose made him the developer of the building. My client is in London, she's the one that brought the case to our chambers.
This Ajibola goes about saying he is the owner of the house, even in the cases he said the court judgement is against the tenants he presented himself as the landlord whereas he is not.
Surprisingly Mr. Kembi has been giving him full backing. But this man who is calling himself the owner of the property, I have sued him and other tenants in the house to court, to eject them.
What happened in this case they came to you about was that on Monday 27th October 2008 one of the tenants in the house came to me, that Ajibola came with some men to evict him from his apartment in the house. I told the man to go and report the incident to the police.
Later the grandchild of the owner, Adebola Arogundade came to inform me that two rooms in the house had become vacant and that he had tenants to put in there so that Ajibola will not let out the place again and pocket the money.
He brought the tenants and they paid. Then they took the tenants to the house. That was on Friday October 31st 2008. I did not go with them to put the tenants in the rooms. I don't need to verify by myself whether the rooms were actually vacant or not before I put tenants in there. It is enough for me that Adebola Arogundade the owner's grandson said they were vacant. I believed him; because it is their property.
It was around 2.00pm that I received a call from the tenants that Ajibola was attacking them with thugs. I was in the hospital with my son that time. So I rushed there with two of my friends and we prevented Ajibola from driving the tenants out. It is not true that I came to the place with thugs or that I was there when the tenants were packing in. Ajibola who is complaining, did he not come to the place with thugs?
When I left the place I went back to the hospital with my child. Around 5.30p.m I received a call that Ajibola had gone to the Elere police station to make a report against my clients. So I went there. But when I get there it was not even Ajibola who was making report to the police but one of the people he called the new tenants. He, Ajibola came later.
Yes it is true that the police arrested me and granted me bail that evening. But this was because of the allegations Ajibola made against me”.

POLICE CORPORAL AKAI (I.P.O)
“Good morning. It is true that there is a case of forcible eviction was lodge in our police station against some people and lawyer Olusegun Raji.
Even in his own statment the lawyer admitted that he was the one who instructed the tenants to enter into the rooms, he cannot deny it since all the facts were so cleared. Yes it is true that he was arrested but the D.P.O allowed him bail just because of his position on self recognisance, really the lawyer went too far”.

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