The eldest child and one of the administrators to the Oguntolu Estate, Tolulope Oladeji said her mother was denied rights to function as a wife and mother.
A widow, Mrs. Airat Oguntolu is appealing to the Lagos State Government, human rights organisations and kind-hearted Nigerians to save her from being stripped of her late husband’s property scattered around Lagos.
She is also alleging undue victimisation, oppression and intimidation in the hands of her late husband’s family.
Narrating her ordeal, the mother of four lamented that her rights and those of her children have been severely trampled on since the death of her husband, Mr. Abayomi Olusina Oguntolu, 20 years ago. She alleged that her brothers-in-law have been the sole managers of landed properties jointly owned by her late husband and have not, in the past 20 years, made any effort to render account or share the proceeds from the property with them.
The widow specifically accused her husband’s younger brother, the traditional ruler of Oguntolu Land, Chief Segun Oguntolu, an engineer, and another family member, Mr. Edward Olayinka Byron of denying her rights as a legal representative to her husband’s assets.
The property, she alleged, include over 50 acres of land known as the Oguntolu Land located at Ijaiye, a property at Forsyth Street, Obalende and another on 70A, Bola Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.
Speaking on behalf of her mother, the eldest child and one of the administrators to the Oguntolu Estate, Tolulope Oladeji, said for over 20 years her mother was denied rights to function as a wife and mother in the Ogutolu family. She alleged a strong case of gender discrimination towards all her female siblings.
She also accused her late father’s brothers of selling properties jointly owned by her father without their knowledge and consent, and also withholding their shares of proceeds made from the sale of some properties.
Tolu alleged that her uncles know the fate and whereabouts of her stepsisters that disappeared over 20 years ago, immediately after the death of her father.
“My father had three children from Mrs. Theresa Oguntolu (nee Evbuoma). She relocated to the United Kingdom in the 80s and initially left all her children with her mother. The names of the children are Sope, Yinka and Babatunde. After my father’s death, my stepmother returned to Nigeria and took the three children abroad.
Since then, all efforts to contact them have proved abortive.
“Interestingly, Engineer Segun is the only one who has been in contact with the children since then and has claimed to have rendered account of all finances concerning the Oguntolu family to them. Their last known address in Nigeria was 30, Shosanya Street, Off Awoyokun Street, Onipanu, Lagos, and last known address of Mrs. Theresa Oguntolu is 30, Duffel House, off Kennington Lane, S.E II, London.”
Tolu said in the quest to get justice and find a lasting solution to the lingering debacle, she, alongside her siblings, approached the Lagos Multi-Courthouse for Alternative Dispute Resolution in September 2016.
She explained that after the mediation session, a document entitled ‘Terms of Settlement’ was duly signed by all parties involved on October 26, 2016. She said the document was entered as Consent Judgment on April 12, 2017, by Justice Folami of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere.
She, however, lamented that every step taken towards a peaceful resolution did not yield any positive result and accused her uncle of breaching all the agreements contained in the Terms of Settlement.
“A property located at Forsyth Street, Obalende, Lagos, was sold by my uncle without our knowledge. This was after the document called ‘terms of settlement’ was signed and an agreement reached. My father was a part owner of the house. After the sale, Engr. Segun instructed his lawyer to give us our share of money from the purported sale, but we raised objection and requested the relevant documents to the property, which included a copy of the Deed of Assignment.
“My mother and all of us were unhappy. We felt slighted because part of the issues raised during the mediation session was that he should desist from laying claim to represent us in matters concerning the Oguntolu family. We view his representation over the past as questionable and fraudulent.
“Since the sale was done, we have written to him several times through his counsel, demanding copies of all relevant documents tied to the sale. But up till now, he has not obliged us. He claimed his counsel was not briefed to represent him and that she had relocated to an unknown destination and that all efforts to arrest her were unsuccessful. But we have reasons to believe that these statements are not true.”
Tolu said she wants justice for her ailing mother, claiming that the woman struggled with her late father to acquire the properties to which she and her children were being denied rights to.
“I am appealing to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to help us ensure justice is done. We want our uncle to be prevailed on to give account of the family property sold within 20 years. He should also surrender the money due to my father and my siblings. He should be compelled to give accurate account of money made from renting out the family property under the Oguntolu digit for 20 years.
“We want him to leave the responsibility of administering our late father’s estate to us and stop interfering with the management and control of properties which solely belong to my father. We are the only ones legally authorized to do so by virtue of the letter of administration issued by the Lagos State government. We want all the properties jointly owned by my father and uncle to be sold by joint participation and involvement of both parties and the proceeds equally divided among us. We also want him to stop collecting rents from tenants on our father’s property located at Ijaiye.
When contacted on phone, Mr. Edward Olayinka Byron, whom Tolu accused of conspiring against her mother and siblings said he had nothing to do with any of the family’s parcels of land. The man, who said he was very sick and hospitalised, said the best person to address all the allegations raised was the traditional ruler more commonly known as Engineer Segun Oguntolu.
Reacting to the allegations levelled against him, the traditional ruler of Oguntolu Land, Chief Segun Oguntolu said the matter was still a subject of litigation. He said, however, that he was yet to understand why his niece was exhibiting so much hostility towards him. The traditional ruler said since the demise of his elder brother, he had never failed to act as a father figure to all his children.
While maintaining his innocence, he explained that after Tolu took the matter to the Lagos Multi Courthouse for Alternative Dispute Resolution, the presiding judge resolved that the two contentious lands in Obalende and Ebute Metta be sold and the money shared among the beneficiaries. He noted that after the two properties were sold, Tolu never showed up to collect her share, which was left in the care of his lawyer.
He further explained that when she attempted to sell the land in Ijaiye, he intervened and advised her to notify her other siblings and tell them about her intention.
“When Tolu notified my brother’s other children about her plan to sell the land, they kicked against it. She then brought in the police and it was decided that the land be split into two. She sold her portion and still later dragged me to another police station in Ojuelegba. For now, I’m still waiting for the court to rule on the case,” he said.