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Idumota Traders Recount Ordeal In The Hands Of Developers, Landlords

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Traders occupying a four-storey building at Idumota Market, Lagos Island, are calling on Lagos state government to save their soul, claiming forcible eviction from their offices by a developer, Messres Bashiar Estate Limited. The victims, who alleged that the developer served them quit notice on August 29, claimed that they got to the market on September 8 to find their company barricaded with zinc and charms placed at the entrance. 

Idumota Market

They also alleged that the developer of the structure situated at 61, Desomu/20 Obun-Eko Streets, asked those willing to retain their shops after renovation to pay N44 million rent for five years per flat, far above N7 million they usually paid.
 Among those affected were a shoe polish firm, Afrecom Nigeria Limited, which claimed its business has been grounded since September 8 following the barricade on the plaza. According to the accountant, Godwin Eseneyen, “our rent is yet to expire and we have been paying to the owners of the flat before the developer asked us to vacate a place we have spent 14 years doing our business, even at a time our rent has not expired. By the virtue of subsisting rent, we are still the legal tenant of the place. “We were shocked when the developer said the owners of the plaza had given them mandate to commence renovation and reconstruction on the building. 

Our lawyer wrote to the developer stating we didn’t know them and that our rent will expire by October, 2016. We also told them that the quit notice was too short considering the difficulty of getting a new place in Idumota. “We quickly went to the owners who we usually pay but they told us to hold on that action was being taken. But on September 8, we came to resume our normal business only to see that the building has been barricaded. Looking at the economic recession in the country, we have been out of business. 

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We can’t take care of our families because our offices have been under lock and key. We are losing our customers; we can’t attend to them when they call. “Having spent 14 years in this building, can’t we be given proper quit notice, at least six months for us to gather ourselves and get a place? We want government to intervene in this act of wickedness meted on us. We don’t have any issue quitting the building, but let it be done in a proper manner. 

“The agreement reached last Thursday between the owners and other occupants of the plaza didn’t include us but we were asked to come to police station next week Wednesday.” Another tenant who was seen packing his wares out of the plaza Charles Akubueze, said he pleaded with the developer for some days to remove his goods, stating that the place was sealed a day after he was notified to vacate but the developers gave him few days to remove his wares.

 When we visited the place, some of the displaced shop owners displayed their wares on the road. A man who refused to mention his name said they were asked to pick the form for non- refundable N100,000 each, adding that it was not a guarantee that the person will get a shop after renovating the plaza. When the developers were contacted, they denied the allegations, insisting that the shop owners were given six months grace to move out.

 One of the developers who identified himself as Agboola Kamorudeen told Vanguard on phone that the allegation of hike in rent was also untrue. He said: “The traders have been given the notice in the past six months and money was not collected from them. They were informed in writing that the shops will undergo renovation and that they should not pay to anybody, which some of them have acknowledged. 

The family told us to tell them the renovation is for their good since it will be done before they commence December season. They came to our office for a meeting and they were the ones who told us to commence last Thursday. Nobody complained about these issues you are telling me.

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