An Oredo Area Customary Court, in Benin, Edo State, has ordered a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, Mrs. Evelyn Igbafe, to vacate and deliver possession of her rented apartment to one Iriabho Egiebade, owner of the property for inability to pay accumulated rent arrears.
The court also ordered Chief Igbafe to pay arrears of rent of N1.1m as the balance of the 20 May 2015 to 19 May, 2016, tenancy year and mesne profit calculated at N108,333 per month from 20 May, 2016, until possession was delivered.
The building which is situated at 4, Odekhiran Avenue, off 2nd Ugor Road, GRA, Benin, is made up of five bed room duplex, tree bedroom guest chalet and a store and a building gate house.
In its judgment delivered by Mrs. M.E. Itsueli (President) and Mr. Osagie Aiwerioghene (member) in the suit brought before it by Iriabho Egiebade through his counsel, Agbonmeikhe Iriabho, the court held that the plaintiff’s claim for recovery of possession of the property was successful as evidenced by his counsel’s oral evidence supported by documentary evidence.
Meanwhile, the defendant, Chief Evelyn Igbinedion, a popular politician in the state, has gone to an Edo High Court in Benin to contest the judgment of the lower court.
In the appeal through her counsel, Jude Imagbeghian, she is praying the court to set aside the entire judgment of the lower court, adding that the Presiding President and members of the court erred by assuming jurisdiction wrongly and gave possession of the property to the plaintiff/respondent despite not fulfilling the conditions precedent to commencing the action.
She particularly stated that the plaintiff/respondent ought to have given a letter of authorization to the solicitor before the issuance of the Quite Notice just as she added that the court ought to have to struck out the plaintiff’s relief for possession having found out that the plaintiff/respondent not give any authorization to the solicitor to issue the statutory notices.
However, the court held that the plaintiff’s attorney having stated on oath under cross examination that the solicitor was authorized to initiate the process of recovering and possession of the property as against the contention of counsel for the defendant that failure to authorize the solicitor in writing was mere technicality and should not strip the court of the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
It added that exhibits D and G were valid notices served on the defendant in compliance with the provisions of the tenancy agreement tendered before the court just as it added that exhibits B and E were handwritten agreements by the defendant on the 9 of January 2016 to vacate the property by 20 April, 2016 and pay the rent arrears.
The court held that the plaintiff’s counsel oral evidence and exhibits B,D, E and G were not controverted or successfully challenged by the defendant and accordingly were deemed to have been admitted.
On the plaintiff’s claim for arrears of rent for the sum of N1.6m as at May, 2016, the court said the plaintiff’s attorney oral evidence supported by documentary evidence to show that payments of rent by the defendant from the date she was let into the property and relying on exhibits C and F, clearly shown that the defendant paid rents up to part of the 20/5/2014 to the May 19, 2015, tenancy year.
The court further held that from the evidence before it the defendant had N300,000 as unpaid rent for the 20/5/32014 to 19/5/2015 while she paid N500,000 on October 2016 while the balance rent of N1.1 million as arrears for the 20/5/2015 to 19/5/2016 tenancy year remained unpaid.