Justice Bola Okikiolu-Ighile of the Lagos High Court has dismissed the “frivolous and vexatious” suit filed by a retired Air Commodore, Ademola Onitiju, challenging the sale of a four-bedroom Duplex in Dolphin Estate, Lagos by the landlady of the property.
Onitiju, who was a yearly tenant in the house sued the landlady and three others for selling the property to another person, after he had been informed in writing that the property had been sold.
Defendants in the suit are Mrs Theodosia Olabisi Ogunnaike, Omo Ogunnaike, Colonel Samuel Aboyemi Dare (rtd) and Lagos State Development Property Corporation (LSDPC) as first to fourth defendants, respectively.
The claimant had prayed the court to declare that the sale of the property to a third party be considered null and void and of no effect. He also asked the court to declare that he was entitled to the statutory right of occupancy.
In addition, Onitiju prayed the court to make an order setting aside the sale, called for specific performance of contract of sale between him and the 1st defendant and a perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from transferring or executing documents to transfer the title of the property to the 3rd defendant.
“An order of injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants either by themselves, servants, agents or privies from enforcing the quit notice dated May 19, 2021 on the claimant in respect of the 4-bedroom duplex together with self-contained 1 bedroom chalet described and situate at No 49B Lafiaji Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos,” he had prayed.
He also asked the court to order a perpetual injunction, restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants or their agents from approaching the 4th defendant for the purpose of transferring the title of the property to the 3rd defendant.
But the 1st defendant in her response stated that she’s a widow and retired businesswoman who was managing the property on behalf of her daughter.
She explained that when the decision to sell the property was reached, the 1st and 2nd defendants first offered the claimant the opportunity to buy it, but he didn’t have the money to do so, adding that there is no contract of sale between them.
On the claim that he was not provided bank details to transfer the money, the 1st defendant argued that he had every opportunity to pay the purchasing price of N135 million others were willing and ready to pay into the account number, which he had always paid his rent, but he failed to do so.
Consequently, counsel for the 1st and 2nd defendants, as well as that of the 3rd defendant, respectively, prayed the court to dismiss the suit with substantial cost for being vexatious, frivolous, baseless and mischievous.
After listening to the argument of parties, their witnesses and perusing the tendered documents as well as written addresses, Justice Okikiolu-Ighile in a judgment delivered on June 20, 2022, which The Guardian obtained last week, dismissed the entire claims of the retired Air Commodore.
The judge held that the evidence of the claimant does not support any of the reliefs he had sought. Delivering judgment on the matter, the judge declared: “In conclusion, the court has placed the evidence of the claimant on one side and that of the defendants on the other on the proverbial imaginary scale and aimed at its decision.
“As in Mogaji vs Odofin (1979) 4 SC 91, it is obvious where the scale tilts. The evidence of the claimant before this court does not support any of the reliefs sought by the claimant.
“The claimant’s case, therefore, fails in its entirety and it is dismissed. I find it difficult to grant any of the reliefs sought in the claims (I) – (vii). The claimant shall relinquish possession of the property to the new owners, the 3rd defendant forthwith. This is the judgment of the court.” Relentlessly, the claimant has filed a notice of appeal and seeks stay of execution of the judgment pending appeal.