PUNCH Metro reports that two military men attached to the Nigeria Army Ordnance Tailoring Factory, Yaba, have been accused of beating up a teacher, Ojiah Marleth-Adeiza, in a house on Maye Street, in the Yaba area of Lagos State. It was learnt that the soldiers allegedly beat up the 40-year-old and damaged his property in a bid to eject him from his apartment.
The men were allegedly acting on the orders of the landlady, identified only as Olawunmi, who is based in Canada. The victim said when he could no longer bear the beating, he lied to the soldiers that he wanted to get a taxi to move his property out of the house. He said he used the opportunity to escape, adding that he later reported the case at the Sabo Police Division.
The Kogi State indigene alleged that aside damaging his property, the soldiers made away with N250,000 he kept in the house. Narrating the incident that culminated in the attack, he said he had rented the apartment from a sibling of Olawunmi, identified simply as Olalekan. He said:
“I rented the apartment in October, 2016. I approached the house agent, Olalekan, who is the brother of the landlady. He asked me to pay N10,000 per month for rent. He said I should pay five months rent, pending when the house would be in good shape.”
“There was no bathroom in the house; there’s only a toilet. When my rent expired in February 2017, Olalekan gave me the account number of his sister to pay a full rent into it. When I spoke with her, she asked how long I had stayed in the house.”
“When I told her five months, she said I must pay for the past five months before I would renew my rent. That was when I realised that her brother did not remit the N50,000 I earlier paid for the house.”
“On March 26, her lawyer tried to evict me forcefully and I reported the case at the Sabo Police Station. At the station, the lawyer discovered the truth and signed an undertaking to stop harassing me. I was asked to vacate the house in May 2017.”
Marleth-Adeiza told our correspondent that around 9.30pm on April 2, 2017, two soldiers entered into the house and challenged his rights to the apartment. He alleged that a Congolese tenant, who allegedly plotted the attack with the landlady, locked up the gate to ensure he did not escape.
“They beat me till blood started gushing out from different parts of my body. While they were hitting me, one of them was speaking with the woman in Canada, telling her not to worry, that they would deal with me.
“I then begged their leader to allow me to go and get a taxi. A few minutes after walking down the road together, I saw a cab and we boarded it together. I instructed the driver to head straight for the Sabo Police Station. The soldier asked the man to drive towards the house.”
“When the driver didn’t listen to him, he jumped out from the cab. I followed him. I held him and insisted that he should follow me to the station. Unfortunately, he wriggled his way out and fled,” he added.
Marleth-Adeiza said he later reported the case after sleeping on the road that night. He said he discovered that aside a new textbook he was writing which was damaged,the sum of N250,000 was also stolen from the apartment.
The victim said he went to the soldiers’ base at Yaba and saw one of the men, whom he identified as Corporal Shaba. He explained that the Regimental Sergeant Major pleaded with him to drop the case so that the men would not be dismissed.
“All I want is justice. They have violated my rights and should be punished,” he added.
When our correspondent reached out to Olalekan on his telephone line, a woman, who claimed to be his sister and asked not to be identified, denied Marleth-Adeiza’s claims, describing him as an ingrate. She said:
“Where he stays is actually an office, not an apartment. He approached my brother that he needed help and he didn’t have money for an apartment. My brother, out of pity, gave him the office space for N10,000 per month and he paid five months rent.”
“Olalekan told him his sister in Canada must not know about it and that he was only helping him. Marleth (Marleth-Adeiza) was given the toilet attached to the office, but he messed it up.”
“One day, he called Olalekan’s sister and told her that he gave him money for the rent. The matter turned into a family problem to the point that my sister is no longer speaking with Olalekan.”
“It wasn’t my sister that called the soldiers. Some Congolese women staying in the house called the soldiers after he broke down their doors and messed up the toilets, which he was not supposed to encroach into.”
“The soldiers then asked him to pack all his things and move out of the house. At a point, he was rude to them and they beat him up. He then told the soldiers that he wanted to pack some of his things; he used that opportunity to escape.”
She added that policemen from the Sabo division arrested the Congolese women for their role in the fracas. She told PUNCH Metro that her brother and some friends intervened in the matter and Olalekan offered a refund of the N50,000 rent to Marleth-Adeiza, but he declined the offer.
She said the claim that the soldiers stole money in the house was an afterthought. Efforts to speak with Olawunmi on Sunday and Monday were abortive as she did not pick her calls. She had also yet to respond to a text message sent to her international line as of press time.
When our correspondent contacted her lawyer, identified only as Adetunji, he said he was not aware of the case.
“I am not aware of anything like that, please,” he said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the incident, adding that investigations were ongoing. He said the police were working with the military to ensure justice was served.
The Acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Olaolu Daudu, did not pick his calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.