Fight between 85-yearold landlord, Lebanese firm over Lagos property gets messier

ByThomas L. Elston

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The house on 33 Balogun Road, Lagos, is in dispute. There are two claimants. While the Dr. Charles Oladeinde Williams’ relatives desires their asset handed again to them, the Lebanese firm, which supposedly leased it, claims the property had lengthy been sold to them. Taiwo Hassan, who has been subsequent the disagreement, experiences

For the former Main Medical Director of Unity Clinic, Lagos, Dr. Charles Oladeinde Williams, it is been a tug-of-war trying to reclaim his inheritance. His father, late Clarence Olatunde Williams, inherited the house with his siblings from their have father, James Wilson. His father, and his uncle, Charles Adeyinka Wilson, as effectively as his aunts, Florence Aduke Bajomo (Nee Williams) and Adenike Wilson, had leased the home to Mohammed El-Khalil and other people in 1953.

The lease was for 50 decades. And the 10-storey setting up was on 3/5, Bankole Road, Lagos, at that time. The road experienced since been rearranged and it is now on 33 Balogun Road. Williams Snr. and his siblings had declared by themselves homeowners of the aforementioned house by inheritance less than indigenous legal guidelines and customs. But in 1953, they granted a 50-12 months lease of the property to Messrs Mohammed El-Khalil and Ramiz Moukarim.

Having said that, a minor around a few many years (1956) following the execution of the 1953 lease, Moukarim and El-Khalil allegedly claimed to have out rightly obtained the residence from Williams’ father and his siblings the identical brothers and sisters who made the 1952 Declaration and signed the 1953 lease. But Williams has managed that he had no information of the purported sale of the assets, insisting that the Lebanese had been occupying the constructing underneath the 1953 lease.

At the expiration of the lease on March 31, 2003, the Lebanese, Williams explained, refused to vacate the home, prompting him to formally notify them of the expiration of the lease, when at the same time requesting them to vacate the residence. Williams explained: “We approached the Lebanese to get again our house, but their response was disheartening. As an alternative of complying, they claimed that the assets experienced been offered to their progenitor three several years into the lease arrangement. This, they reported, was perfected in 1956.

They drew our notice to the 1956 Deed of Transfer less than which they claimed the assets was sold to them.” Anxious by the change of occasions, the 85-12 months-old Williams carried out a lookup at the lands Registry, Alausa, Ikeja, but what he observed out was far more confounding. It was found out, according to him, that the Deed of Transfer of title was without a doubt registered by the Lebanese as the rightful house owners of the house, hardly 3 years immediately after the commencement of the 50-year lease by the Williams’ household.

Not contented with what they observed, the Williams went to get hold of a duplicate of the 1956 Deed of Transfer and forwarded similar to the Forensic Science Laboratory of the Nigerian Law enforcement, Alagbon, Lagos, for additional scrutiny and to validate the authenticity of the signatures of his father and his father’s siblings and as opposed with these on the 1953 lease. Soon after the examination of the forensic report, the Police concluded that the signatures on the 1956 intended Deed of Transfer of title were being completely various from these on the 1952 declaration and the 1953 Deed of Lease.

They subsequently declared that the 1956 Deed of Transfer was solid. An additional seeming abnormality that caught Williams’ eyes was the failure of the 1956 Deed of Transfer to terminate or even make any form of reference to the 1953 Deed of Lease, which ordinarily ought to have been the case.

It was also discovered that the Lebanese inadvertently misrepresented or wrongly described Williams’ aunt, Adenike Wilson, as “Anike Wilson” in the purported 1956 Deed of Transfer even with the truth that in the 1952 Declaration and 1953 Lease, the identical aunt was consistently described as Adenike Wilson. It was the mix of the Police conclusions and these contradictions that prompted Williams to technique the Significant Courtroom of Lagos Point out to search for to void it and to get well their family’s residence.

On March 8, 2012, the family commenced a fit at the Significant Court of Lagos Condition, against El-Khalil & Sons Houses Limited and a few others. They provided the own representatives of the Estate of Mohammed El-Khalil, own representatives of the Estate of Ramiz Moukarim and the Registrar of Titles, Lands Registry of Lagos Condition as defendants. Williams experienced approached the court trying to find repossession of the residence. The legal struggle spanned seven decades before the court shipped its judgement in the go well with on December, 6, 2019, in favour of Williams and his family members.

A appear at the summary of the background on which the legal battle was fought as shown in a court doc designed out there to this newspaper indicated that Williams is a descendant of one James Wilson, the authentic owner of the assets in dispute. By the way, the Lebanese business, according to Williams, had refused to hand around the home to him and his spouse and children and has given that been irritating the court docket get on the excuse that they experienced appealed the judgement at the Courtroom of Appeal, Lagos.

At the hearing of the match, the two Williams and the Lebanese termed for forensic evidence in respect of the authenticity or if not of the signatures on the 1956 Deed of Transfer as compared to the signatures on the 1952 Declaration and the 1953 Deed of Lease. But in a rather bizarre twist, the forensic physician known as by the defendants testified underneath crossexamination just before the demo courtroom that the signatures on the Deed of Transfer ended up so distinct from the signatures on the 1953 Lease “that there was no basis for any comparison between the two sets of signatures.” Right after the judgement, the defendants filed an appeal at the Court of Attractiveness, Lagos Division, seeking to overturn the ruling. They also applied for a remain of execution of the judgement of the demo court docket pending the final result of that appeal.

However, at the listening to of the software for continue to be of execution, the defendants knowledgeable the trial court that they ended up organized to deposit a financial institution promise with the registrar of the demo court docket for the judgement sum pending the end result of their attractiveness.

Incidentally, Williams did not oppose the defendants’ proposal that a lender guarantee must be deposited in the account of the registrar of the courtroom. He just added a further problem that the administration of the assets really should be vested in a highly regarded estate administration company, even though the attractiveness is pending ahead of the Courtroom of Appeal. Apparently and notably, the defendants did not also object to or contest this additional issue. In its ruling delivered on February 17, the trial courtroom, among the other points, granted a conditional remain in line with the proposals of the get-togethers. The decide made an order to the result that the judgement sum and curiosity accruing on it up till the judgement need to be deposited inside 7 times through a lender draft in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Substantial Court docket of Lagos Point out.

He also claimed that the management of the residence really should be vested in a trustworthy estate firm to be appointed by the Main Registrar of the Court. However, the defendants, it was even further learnt, released a second attractiveness, this time, towards the order of conditional keep granted by the demo court just about on the defendants’ possess terms.

The defendants’ counsel, Main Tunde Olojo of Elubode B. Omoboriowo Esq, Shinkafi, Kusamotu, Olojo & Co, on December 9, 2019, despatched a discover with Appeal No: Fit No: LD/331/2012 to the Court docket of Attractiveness, Lagos, a duplicate of which is in possession of Saturday Telegraph. They, by way of their legal professionals, claimed they had been dissatisfied with the choice of the Higher Court docket of Lagos Condition, contained in the judgement by Justice Candide-Johnson, delivered on December 6, 2019.

In accordance to Counsel to Khalil: “The discovered trial judge erred in legislation when he held that 1st Respondent- Dr. C.O Williams has the locus standi to institute the motion for and on behalf of the alleged deceased predecessors-in-title. The 1st respondent during the demo did not deliver any dying certification to build the demise of any of his alleged deceased predecessors-in-title. In the Recognize of Enchantment, the 1st respondent did not also direct proof of any probate/letter of administration as the executor/beneficiary of the estate of any of his alleged deceased predecessors-in-title. “Also, the 1st respondent did not tender any letter of Administration to display that the 3rd Appellant is a beneficiary of the estates of both 1st and 2nd Appellant. So, the uncovered trial judge erred in law when he held that the 1st respondent has proven a situation of forgery towards the 1st -3rd Appellants and that the doctrine of genuineness did not avail them.” In a different twist however, Williams petitioned the Federal Government by the Workplace of the Inspector Common of Police (IGP). He specially requested the IGP, Mohammad Adamu, to preserve him in the fingers of Lebanese descendants of El-Khalil, whom, he mentioned, have refused to launch his family’s property soon after the expiration of their 50-year-old lease agreement. The petition also addresses that of forgery, fraudulent conversion of property and getting by way of power pretence. In the petition dated August 28, and duly signed by him, a copy of which was built readily available to Saturday Telegraph, showed that he was claiming that the organization of M. El-Khalil & Sons Qualities Confined forged a Deed of Transfer dated December 2, 1956, and has been saying ownership of and occupying his family’s residence considering the fact that then centered on the solid titled document. Williams similarly claimed that the corporation, M. El-Khalil & Sons Properties Confined, now managed by Francis Uzom of Frank Harden Restricted and Obinna Chima experienced relied on phony declare of possession of the residence to pocket large revenue working into billions of naira in rents selection from unsuspecting tenants at the assets. “They have been making an attempt to sell the claimed home based on the stated forged title documents,” he even more alleged. He stated that his initiatives to alert the occupants of the residence and the typical general public, primarily prospective property purchasers about the declare of ownership by M. El-Khalil & Sons Homes Confined, have led to a number of threats of dying directed at him by officers of the mentioned company. Whilst responding to the weighty allegations, the Lebanese speaking by means of their law firm, Elubode B. Omoboriowo Esq of Elubode B. Omoboriowo Esq, Shinkafi and Kusamotu Olojo & Co, dismissed the loss of life promises allegation in his job interview with our reporter. In accordance to him, “This is a lie that was effectively fabricated. In actuality, the allegation is not only a lie, but also bogus and baseless. It is a entire lie from the air.” Omoboriowo did not only garbage Williams’ claims on home forgery, but insisted that, “It is a fabricated lies that are not able to be proven by him at the regulation court docket since M. El-Khalil & Sons Houses Minimal is a company and if he is insisting that a company cast a certificate like he claimed, so why did not he occur out and point out a director (s) or personnel of the corporation that did it in M. El-Khalil & SONS Properties Limited and the so-called director or staff members will come out publicly to accept or deny that.” The law firm spelled out that the claimant has no evidence of proof to that outcome as he’s applying the threat to daily life as a ploy to gain sympathy pursuing his clientele go to attraction the Superior Courtroom of Lagos Judgement. “There is no iota of truth in that,” he extra. Omoboriowo explained to our reporter that the circumstance is already in the Court docket of Appeal and that it is now slated for hearing on December 14. “We are completely ready to acquire it up to the Supreme Court since our customers have a sturdy case to upturn the judgement in their favour next the trim victory that Williams is making the most of more than the Higher Court judgement that gave him 1 of the lands on the property.” On the coming December 14, Appeal hearing, Omoboriowo said: “My clientele have a strong circumstance versus him to upturn the judgement as a matter of simple fact. That is why we are treading the line of professionalism, the line of the regulation and not resorting to push, law enforcement and right here and there. He’s the a single that goes about speaking as outdated as he is. We are heading to upturn it by the grace of God. The scenario is still heading to the Supreme Courtroom and we are heading to overturn the first judgement it is just a trim victory he has now.” Lately, Williams has also complained of other alleged underhand dealings by the Lebanese. For instance, all through the interval when the circumstance was right before the trial court, he said, the defendants, beneath the guise of a bogus settlement initiative, delayed the hearing of the situation for a substantial size of time. He also claimed that the Lebanese at some issue re-configured the assets to accommodate extra tenants from whom rents managing into hundreds of tens of millions had been gathered by the defendants. Just after the defendants ended up performed with the configuration of the assets and had enable out the freshly included areas to tenants, all pretences towards amicable settlement of the dispute with Williams were performed absent with by them as they returned to announce to the trial courtroom that the settlement initiative failed. Yet again, though their two appeals were being pending just before the Courtroom of Enchantment, the defendants allegedly started out boasting to the tenants in the constructing and the people in the speedy atmosphere that they had been well prepared to preserve the scenario in court indefinitely as a result of the attraction approach. They even pointed to the notoriously sluggish judicial method in the place, to generate household their issue, Williams alleged. “They claimed that supplied my state-of-the-art age, it is practically unachievable for me to see the finish of the circumstance in my life time,” he more explained to our reporter. But the threats and wishes of death notwithstanding, Williams believes that the very same Almighty God, who held him alive all through the duration of the scenario at the trial court, would sustain him as a result of the attractiveness procedures until eventually his final vindication by the Court docket of Appeal, and if have to have be, the Supreme Courtroom. Williams stated that he was steadfast in his belief that while the wheels of justice may possibly switch bit by bit, they do, in fact, turn exceedingly fantastic, saying that his religion in God and the judicial system experienced in no way been more powerful. Omoboriowo on the other hand, defined that his clients’ business has been in possession and profession of the very same house given that 1966 without the need of any problem or disturbance from Williams’ alleged predecessors’ intitle or the Claimant. He insisted that his firm carried out a standard mend in the tune of N150 million for the trespass and lawful execution carried out by the Claimant and/or his agents on the afflicted property in December 2009. In accordance to him, the Claimant lacks the locus standi to institute or start any scenario towards them in that he is not a celebration to any of the transactions (title paperwork) when signing the deed of settlement in 1953 was carried out. Assistant property supervisor of M. El-Khalil & Sons (homes) Confined, Obinna Chima, on his component stated that there is almost nothing in any of the paperwork put just before the Court docket by Williams from whom the Court docket could locate or infer any connection or relationship amongst the Claimant and his alleged predecessors-in-title. This, the Lebanese’ lawyers, agreed with, when they explained that this action is statute barred in that the bring about of action which is demanding the authenticity of the Deed of transfer of Freehold dated November 2, 1956, arose 55 a long time in the past. The acquired law firm argued that this suit amounts to an abuse of the process of the Court docket in that the notices to stop and notice of owner’s intent to apply to get better possession upon which this action is started had been purportedly served all through the pendency of fit No LD/2144/05 (Dr. C.O. Williams vs M. El-Khalil & ORS) in which the claimed accommodate, functions and the subject matter matter are the similar as in the prompt accommodate and also a Detect of Attraction submitted by the Claimant which has not been withdrawn. Nonetheless, a take a look at to the home in problem by our reporter, confirmed that it is a 10-storey constructing with store space ranging from N3 million to N15 million per annum with traders of all kinds occupying the home. The traders offer mostly shoes, baggage, leather-based, clothes, jewellery add-ons, and occupy each individual flooring of the setting up.

 

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