Judging Matters, the new legal reality TV show promises as much laughter and entertainment as much as learnings from cases brought to the courtroom. On this latest episode of Judging Matters, we see in case one, a case between plaintiff Esther Asuquo and defendant James Odo brought before Justice Olusola Williams with Ebuka as the counsel.
In a bid to change her apartment, Esther had approached James, a house agent to help her secure a befitting accommodation. James finally found one, then took Esther to the house. You know how agents make you pay for a house just by putting in you the fear of other interested occupants for the same house. Lo, Esther made a payment of N160,000 out of which N110,000 went to the landlord and the N50,000 was agency fee made to James. Five days after making payment, she visited the house and found a different person living in the house. She approached the landlord who said his in-law had paid for the house, and thereafter refunded her N110,000. Esther thereafter approached James who said it was going to be difficult to pay her back the N50,000 agency fee, but he would look for another house for her.
To Ebuka’s amazement, how could an agency fee for a N60,000 rent be N50,000 after all the law stipulates that agency fee is 10% of the house rent. James said his share was N6, 200 from the money as he had seven other agents he worked with. Esther told the court she had earlier paid a N2,000 non-refundable registration fee to James and she just wanted her N50,000 back.
Ebuka appealed to James to show some empathy, he thereafter asked him how long he would wait to get a refund if he were to be in Esther’s shoes. Apparently, James had taken her to seven other houses which she did not like for reasons ranging from, a certain symbol in the house to the house being a downstairs apartment because she has kids. Esther said her church rejected the other house that had a symbol so she cannot live in it. Justice Olusola Williams in her ruling asked James Odo to refund the N50,000 agency fee he collected from Esther Asuquo because he failed to render the service in which he was engaged. Justice Olusola ruled in favour of the plaintiff since she said she had gotten a befitting apartment and she no longer needed the services of agent James Obodo.
In case two, we saw a 15 years old friendship end abruptly because of trust issues. This begs the question, ‘would you believe hearsay over a friend you have known for 15 years?’ This case involved the plaintiff Christiana Essien, a fashion designer who used to sew in her house because she did not have money to rent a shop, and her friend, defendant Ada Joy who rented a shop she was using for her business. Ada no longer needed the shop and had mentioned to Christiana who agreed to take up the shop and renovate it for use.
Ada had taken Christiana to Lati who said he was the landlord, and Lati was said to have given approval to her to take over the shop.
On a certain day while the renovation was going on, Iya Bukola, Lati’s brother, passed by and saw that the shop was being renovated. She asked Christiana who gave her permission to renovate, and she said it was Lati. When they approached Lati, he said the shop was no longer in his care as they had shared their father’s properties and the shop belonged to Iya Bukola. At this point, Iya Bukola told Christiana to stop the renovation work immediately. Christiana claimed she had spent N77,000 on the shop so far, and this was a loan she collected and is being repaid weekly, so she wanted a refund of the money from Lati. She said she was renovating ahead of September when Ada’s rent would have expired, and she would take over the shop fully. The Counsellor Ebuka asked Christiana if Lati had authorized the renovation, which she answered in the affirmative.
Christiana told Justice Olusola Williams that someone in the neighbourhood told her that her friend, Ada knew there would be problems and still told her to go ahead to do the renovation.
Lati said he had no money to refund to Christiana and there was nothing he could do about the situation. Lati was said to have told Ada that he was fine with the transfer of use to Christiana as long as she would pay and not give them problems, and that the shop needed renovation. Christiana chose to believe hearsay over her friend, Ada whom she had known for 15 years. When the court asked Christiana about the person who told her Ada knew about the problems, Christiana refused to mention any names.
When asked if Ada ever met Iya Bukola, she said no, but she knew her to be a part of the family. In her ruling, Justice Olusola Williams said Christiana knew that Ada didn’t own the store and she’s not the landlord as well. She further questioned Christiana about what she thought was Ada’s gain in the renovation, as Ada did not use the shop anymore, and Ada was not owing rent as at the time she told Christiana to take over the shop. It was clear to the court that Christiana’s frustration was mainly because she borrowed the money being used for the renovation and she has been paying back every week. In the light of all this, presiding Justice Olusola Williams dismissed the case.
If you missed the premiere episode on Africa Magic Showcase channel 151, catch the repeat episode on the same channel on Wednesday at 10 pm.
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