Mr. Kayode Tejuoso, the embattled husband of a Lagos State House of Assembly member, Funmilayo Tejuoso, explains how armed security men, allegedly acting on the orders of the Lagos State Government, invaded his Ikeja GRA home and forcibly evicted his family and took over the property
You issued a press statement accusing the Lagos State Government of sending armed security men to invade your Ikeja GRA home and to forcibly evict your family members. How did that happen?
My home was invaded by armed security men on November 3 this year. I was not in the country at that time. I received a distress call that some people had forcibly entered my house. My daughter was in the house when the armed men invaded while my 11-year-old son had gone to school. My daughter was scared and went into hiding thinking the men were armed robbers. The security men chased out all the people in the house and took charge of the property and refused to let anybody into the house. My son, upon his return from school, was not allowed to enter the house. He had no other clothing on except his school uniform all through the weekend. In view of the messy situation, I had to cut my trip short and return to Nigeria on Monday. As soon as I got to Nigeria, I headed straight for my residence.
I was confronted by over 20 armed policemen and an armoured vehicle stationed in front of my house. They refused to let me into my residence. In fact, they threatened me; I was shoved aside (as I attempted to enter the house). At that time, I didn’t know where my son was and my daughter was holed up in the house. After much protestation that my daughter was holed up in the house against her will, they eventually allowed her to get out of the house. She was dragged out of the corner she was hiding, terrified. She was pushed and shoved down the stairs; she was pushed out of the house. She was forcibly removed from the house without any opportunity to change or pick some clothes. She was in the National Youth Service Corps uniform. So, she was locked in the house on Friday and forced out on Monday. They broke the wall and the door in the process of forcing her out.
Were you not given the notice to quit?
After the last local government elections in Lagos State, I think there were issues concerning some people going to court; that was when the first warning came that the sale of the house (to me) had been revoked. But I showed them evidence that the property was legitimately bought from the government, paying N150m – equivalent of $1m at that time – then, they backed down a bit. But they came back afterwards issuing us a notice to quit the property within 90 days. Well, we took them to court. The lawsuit is still pending in court when they invaded my house while I was on a private business trip abroad. My wife also is on a foreign trip in an official capacity on behalf of the Lagos State Government. They took over the house with only my children around.
Wasn’t the case struck out?
The case was not struck out; it is subsisting. It was not struck out at all.
Is this a case of Lagos State Government trying to take over your property or the Lagos State House of Assembly?
It is the Lagos State Government. The policemen that invaded my house and took over my property said they were from the governor’s office. We have no reason to doubt them because they actually came with Lagos State government officials. They said they were from the governor’s office.
When did your family start living on the property?
We have been living there for the past eight years.
Did that correspond with the time your wife, Funmilayo Tejuoso, was the deputy speaker of the Lagos Assembly?
No. It was after her tenure as the deputy speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly that we acquired the property. She was deputy speaker between 2007 and 2009. We were offered the sale of the house after her tenure in 2010.
Did she live on the property while she was the deputy speaker?
No, she did not. She was allocated a place at Ladipo Bateye, GRA, Ikeja.
What efforts have you made to get the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to intervene in this matter?
I have sent emissaries to the governor; I have sent people to appeal to him to listen to my side of the story. I would like to see him and explain how I acquired the property. I have been sending people to him. I have no (personal) access to him. I am a private citizen; I am not in government. I feel being able to meet him and explain things will go a long way to resolve the lingering crisis.
So, no word has been heard from the state governor?
As of now, no word has been heard from the state governor. All I heard was that the state government is handing over the place to the deputy speaker and that a signboard had been erected to indicate that. What is currently happening in Lagos State is very sad and very painful; in a country where our son – our first son – is serving his fatherland on the front line of the Boko Haram war. He is an officer in the military and we’re being treated this way by a part of the Nigerian government. Our son’s wedding is slated for December 9. This whole scenario is very disheartening. I just want the truth to be out there because a lot of lies are being peddled – perhaps in an effort to garner public opinion against us. I am not averse to that. All I want is for them to admit the truth and speak the truth. I have circulated all the documents pertaining to the property. I have a letter of the offer also because they’re claiming it was an illegal sale.
I am surprised that they are not going after the people who conducted the ‘illegal’ sale. If the sale of the property is illegal then we are victims of fraud – we are in that sense, victims and not villains. It means someone sold to us what ought not to be sold. In other words, we have been defrauded by someone. Is that the case? They are treating us like criminals instead of going after those who conducted the sale. Again, if they are claiming that there are 100 buildings acquired illegally, I haven’t heard of any other person or family driven out of their home. Where are the other 99 houses? Why is it only the Tejuoso (family) that is facing this ugly situation? The public needs to know the truth.
Could it be that your wife must have had a run-in with some government officials or politicians?
That should be a normal thing. Every politician has an interest to protect. I know that my wife is someone who speaks the truth. She’s a principled person. She is not a run-of-the-mill politician. I know she would likely have some run-ins with other politicians from time to time – I am not surprised because it comes with the territory.
Your wife was accused of using a company that belongs to both of you to acquire the property after her efforts to personally buy the house was rejected. What do you have to say about that?
She is not part of the company. I am the owner of the company. The only reason we had to use the company was in a bid to protect me as a corporate entity in the case of any kind of litigation. The agreement for the purchase of the property was made by me. The N150m payment for the house was made by me. She had nothing to do with that.
So, as we speak, the armed security men are still surround your house?
Yes; if you go there now, you will see 20 or more armed men. My dogs are still in the house unfed and some of them could have died of hunger. It is also frightening that the gate to my house is left wide open with strange people going in and out, with my belongings exposed to theft. It’s difficult to imagine that a lot of things would have been carted away in my house. I am not allowed to move closer to my property to observe what is going on there. Anytime the security men see me approaching the house, they prevented me from moving closer.
Though your wife is out of the country as we speak, is she aware of the ongoing face-off between you and Lagos State Government?
Yes; she is aware of the situation. She’s trying to get back into the country – she’s trying to change her flight. She’s on her way back – I’m expecting her any moment from now.
Lagos State’s position on deputy speaker’s residence
Being neither an official of Lagos State nor the purported beneficiary of the government property on No 3A Sasegbon Street, Ikeja GRA, we ought not to dignify Mr. Kayode Tejuoso’s befuddling statement to the press with a response. However, in order not to have the public misinformed, it’s important to make the following clarifications:
- That the matter in question does not involve the governor’s office as being erroneously alleged but a tussle of ownership on a government property between an interloper and the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
- That 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 takeover 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.
- That while government acknowledges a form of monetisation policy that allowed certain levels of government officials and political appointees to purchase official quarters in their individual capacity on owner-occupier basis, this policy never extended to companies like Debam Maga Solution, which, being no government entity, could not have legally made a bid for a government property.
- That 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.
Commissioner For Information & Strategy, Lagos StatePunch