The family of Funmilayo Tejuoso, a former Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, and the Lagos State Government are at dagger’s drawn over the eviction of the family from its residence in the Ikeja area of the state.
While Funmilayo’s husband, Kayode Tejuoso, accused the state government of victimisation, the state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said the house was not acquired by the family.
Funmilayo, a serving four-time lawmaker, was asked to quit the five-bedroomed semi-detached house located on Sasegbon Street, Ikeja GRA, after the report of a panel of inquiry on illegal sale of public assets said the house was illegally acquired.
The incumbent Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, was said to have formally taken over the building on Tuesday.
The Clerk of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Sanni Azeez, and the Director of the Lagos State Staff Housing Board, Mr. Dele Oyewunmi, among others, were reported to have given Eshilokun-Sanni keys to the two wings of the semi-detached duplex, which previous deputy speakers in the state had allegedly used before Funmilayo moved in when she was elected as the deputy speaker in 2007.
After she was impeached in 2009 from the office of the Deputy Speaker, she had remained in the apartment.
Her husband, Kayode, said the house was bought by his family, adding that the eviction was “a sheer political persecution and uncommon vendetta” against his wife.
He noted that Funmilayo, who is representing Mushin Constituency I in the state House of Assembly, had travelled out of the country when policemen from the governor’s office stormed the house and evicted residents.
Kayode, who spoke with journalists on Wednesday, said the property was acquired under the Federal Government’s Property Monetisation and Redevelopment Policy during the administration of a former Governor of the state, Babatunde Fashola.
He said they paid N150m in tranches into the account of the state Ministry of Housing through a firm, Debam Mega Solutions.
A letter, dated March 26, 2010 and signed by the then Permanent Secretary of the ministry, P.O. Bamgbose-Martins, indicated that Fashola approved the sale of the property at N200m with a 25 per cent discount.
Details of the payments also showed that the firm paid in tranches of N13m, N58m, N29m, N10m, N10m, N8m, N8m, N5m and N9m between February 4, 2010 and May 28, 2015.
Kayode said his family was traumatised by the eviction and had been rendered homeless.
He said, “During the administration of former Governor Bola Tinubu, the Lagos State Government adopted the Federal Government’s Property Monetisation and Redevelopment Policy by offering several of its property to civil servants occupying same for sale, as well as companies under redevelopment schemes.
“This policy was continued by the Babatunde Fashola administration as a result of which several officials benefited. My wife and I were equally afforded the same opportunity of acquiring the property, which we chose to do through Debam Mega Solutions Limited in which we have interest.
“At the time the company sought the concession of the former governor, the property housed a dilapidated and abandoned structure. Further to the said application and by the Lagos State Ministry of Housing letter with reference no: MHEST/627, the state government offered to sell the property to the firm at the ultimate agreed purchase price of N150m.
“This amount was eventually fully paid to the government on May 28, 2015, thereby concluding the sale of the property from the government to the company.”
Kayode further explained that upon the acquisition of the right of occupancy over the property, he and his wife rebuilt it.
He said his family had been living in the house peacefully since 2010 until about 11am on Friday, November 3, 2011, when the policemen stormed the building.
He said, “The policemen from the Office of the Governor of Lagos State, led by one Mr. D. Abutu, without an order of court, invaded the property, evicted some of the occupants and imprisoned others, who have remained imprisoned since.
“The property was sealed since that day with armed police officers stationed within and outside the premises while my daughter and others are inside. She is traumatised.
“On Monday, November 6, the policemen took their unprecedented ignominious conduct to horrifying proportions when, acting on the specific instruction of the Lagos State governor, they broke the doors and walls of the house in a Gestapo style.
“They also vandalised the property and harassed the children who are occupying it. Some of our property have been pilfered.”
The policemen were still on the ground as of 12pm on Wednesday when our correspondent visited the area.
A signpost with an inscription ‘Deputy Speaker’s Official Residence’ was also erected on the frontage of the house.
“Contrary to lies being peddled by the state government that the building is the official residence of the Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, the two previous deputy speakers before my wife, Mrs. Funmilayo Tejuoso, were Farouk Oshodi and Toun Adediran, while the two after her were Bola Badmus and Kolawole Taiwo.
“None of them ever lived at 3A Sasegbon Street. A former Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Budget, Mrs. Dawodu, handed the place over to us,” he added.
The state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ayorinde, in a statement on Wednesday, however, said the property was bought by a company and not the couple, adding that payments were not fully made.
The statement read in part, “The matter in question does not involve the governor’s office as being erroneously alleged. While a couple has stepped forward to claim ownership of the said property, this is a misdirected claim as the couple did not make any purchase on the property.
“The company that made the purported purchase did so in error and is yet to step forward to challenge the cancellation of the purchase since the company – a certain Debam Mega Solutions – which paid only a portion of the offer price, never completed payments on it that would have entitled its full take-over and access to Certificate of Occupancy.
“The incomplete payment has since been refunded to the company and the property retrieved so that it can continue to serve as the official quarters of the Deputy Speaker of LAHA.”
The statement affirmed that the monetisation policy allowed certain levels of government officials and political appointees to purchase official quarters in their individual capacity on owner-occupier basis, but said the policy did not extend to companies like Debam Maga Solutions.
“The names of the two directors of the said company are never Lagos State officials and the media is encouraged to investigate the names of those directors with the Corporate Affairs Commission, whether the company is owned by the Tejuosos or not as claimed by the husband,” it added.