Rent Debt: Evicted Abuja Based Pharmacist Begs Court Not To Sell Property

Byadulawo

Feb 6, 2024

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An Abuja based pharmacist, Kelechi Osuji, who was evicted from his two-bedroom rented apartment at Flat 3, Block C20, Same Global Estate, Lokogoma District, Abuja has begged that his property which had been confiscated by court should not be auctioned.

Osuji was evicted from the house by an Abuja High Court, which also ordered him to pay a total sum of N7,899,972 being his house rent he did not pay from November, 2015 to October 2023.

Osuji, in a letter addressed to the Enforcement Department of the High Court of FCT, Maitama, Abuja by his lawyer, S.N. Okonta, expressed his readiness to pay the judgment sum of N7,426,465.71k.

The letter, dated January 26, which was sighted by this medium, on Tuesday, reads partly: “Notice Of Intention To Pay The Judgment Sum/Appeal For Stay Of Sale Of Attached Properties.

“We are a firm of Solicitors and Advocates representing the Judgment Debtor Pharmacist Kelechi Osuji (hereinafter referred to as “Our Client” and it is on his specific instruction that we make this application.
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“Our client has expressed his intention to pay up the judgment sum of N7,426,465.71k. He in furtherance of this resolve has paid the N2,000,000.00 today into High Court of the FCT Enforcement Account.

“The balance of N5,423,465.71k shall be paid as follows: N1,000,000.00 on Monday 29/1/2024, N3,000,000.00 on Monday 12/2/2024, N1,423,465.71k, on Monday 26/2/2024.

“We appeal to you not to dispose our client’s properties attached in the cause of the execution of the above judgment on 24-01-2024. The properties shall not be released to our client until final liquidation of the judgment sum as state above. Find attached the list of the properties. Thank you.”

The pharmacist had dragged his landlord, Mr. O. Ifedapo and his caretaker, Mr. Tajudeen Oyerinde, before the court on the ground that they subjected him to harassment, embarrassment and emotional torture by giving him one month quit notice.
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Osuji demanded, among other claims, a sum of N10m and a perpetual injunction restraining the landlord and his agent from ejecting him from his apartment except by due process.

He claimed that he was entitled to six months quit notice, praying the court to uphold same and declare that the tenancy agreement between him and the landlord had elapsed by effusion of time on October 30, 2015.

The respondents, in their counter claims, sought an order of the court directing Osuji to pay to the landlord mesne profit of N900,000.00 calculated at N75,000.00 per month from November 1, 2015 to November 1, 2016.

They also sought an order of the court directing Osuji to pay his landlord the sum of N83,333.00 per month from November 1, 2016 until vacant possession of the premises is yielded to the landlord.
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Delivering his judgement on October 6, 2023, Justice K.N. Ogbonnaya of the court held that Osuji, the plaintiff failed to establish and prove his case before the court and as such, he is not entitled to the reliefs sought.

Justice Ogbonnaya, in the judgement which was obtained by our reporter on Monday in Abuja, stated: “Every Landlord is entitled to the fee paid as rent to his house just like every labourer is entitled to his wages. Such rent should not be denied him by unscrupulous tenants who, after enjoying their stay and utilising the house, turn around to deny the landlord his hard earned investment by rushing to court to anchor on unnecessary technicalities to hang on in the said apartment/house for years, denying the owner the peaceful enjoyment of the fruit of his investment in a legal battle initiated by them which often lasts for years with sole aim to torture the Landlord and live in the house free for as long as the case lasts.

“To start with, there is no doubt that the plaintiff and the 1st defendant has a tenancy agreement for one year which ended on 31st October, 2015. The plaintiff supposed to vacate the premises and give up possession. He held over. The amount for the tenancy was certain and when divided by 12 will give the exact amount to be paid per month. The plaintiff overstayed for initial two months.

“It is the Law, the Rule and has been decided in plethora of cases that Mesne Profit starts counting once a tenant has held over the premises after the expiration of Tenancy.
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“In this case, the extra stay was not defined as a yearly tenancy because it is not. Therefore, the issue of six months’ notice cannot come up. So also, the argument of the plaintiff that he was not given the required Statutory six months’ notice is misconceived because he is not a yearly Tenant per se though the stay was for one year. It is not defined. There was no room or agreement signed and written between the parties. The plaintiff did not prove that there was any such agreement. He knew that his stay will end on 31st December, 2015 without hope or intension to renew.

“He has no right to insist that the landlord should give him six months’ notice to vacate the premises and give up possession when he in his own Statement on Oath stated that he agreed to stay initially for three months up to March after he stated that he will pack out by end of January and shifted to March and now extended to December at the payment of N600,000.00.
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“Ab initio he knew that he will leave by 31st December, 2023. The Agreement was not part of the expired Tenancy that is why it was based on a new and distinct fee. In the absence of a new Tenancy the old Tenancy was the only measuring yarrow and stick.

“The Defendants/Counter-Claimants has been able to defend this case and have also been able to prove their counter-claim and are entitled to the reliefs sought in their counter-claim in this Suit.”

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