Temitope Odeyinka is an alumnus of the University of Lagos. She was called to Bar in 2016. She speaks on her experience, tenancy law and sundry issue. JOHN CHIKEZIE reports
My name is Temitope Odeyinka and I’m from Osun State in Ifelodun Local Government. I graduated from the University of Lagos in 2015 and proceeded immediately to the Nigerian Law School.
I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2016. I became a member of Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Arbitrators in 2018.
Becoming a lawyer was more of a childhood dream as I just kept telling everyoneIwantedtobecomealawyer without evenhaving any lawyer in my family. Although my uncle later proceeded to study law, it was way after I had made the decision.
Law School experience
Law school was fun. It was to broaden our horizon and also was the best learning experience from a Nigerian institution.
The hostels were conducive, it was built for learning, although the grading method was annoying because you were graded on your lowest grade thankfully, that has changed now.
But generally, I enjoyed law school and I only wish I socialized a lot more and didn’t take things as serious as I did.
Judiciary and justice system since 2016
Well, my evaluationof theNigerian judiciary consists of a lot of things.
There are great judges with good intention and great knowledge of the law especially in Lagos but sometimes their hands are tied, sometimes the system is just built wrongly.
Thejudiciaryisn’tbuilttomakelaws, just interpret already made laws and the legislatureshardlymake forwardthinking laws, so what would they interpret. Also, there are a lot of bottlenecks that delay cases and most of these are usually administrative problems not that of judges.
Do you believe that judges still take trial notes on long hand when they should have stenographers and recorders to make life easier? Generally, the judiciary and justice system in Nigeria is just like every other sector in Nigeria that has failed majorly because they refuse to improve upon it.
However, in terms of reforms for the judiciary, I suggestthatthelegislaturesshould make more forward thinking laws. They shouldmakelawsthatmeetwithtechnological advancement. Also, more judges should be appointed on merit.
Lagos tenancy law
On the issue of tenancy law, before it was amended in Lagos, it was erratic and the landlordshadallthepower.
Landlordswould just result into self-help to evict tenants; selfhelp is when the landlord does things like removing the roof, stopping flow of water e.t.c just to frustrate the tenant to move out or just forcefully ejecting the tenant.
So, the State promulgated a law to protect the tenants, some of the provisions, the compulsory nature of a quit notice, the abolition of self-help by the landlord and the onlyway to evictatenantis byobtaininganorderof court.
However, the law is good and it’s open to amendments but the law has helped protect tenants from irrational landlords.
The law now puts the landlords at the mercy of the tenants. For example, a tenant, who refusedtopayrent, shouldautomaticallyafter presenting a 7-day notice, be ejected.
Thisisbecauserefusaltopayrentisaterm of the tenancy that has been breached, however, what happens is that the magistrate, still requires you to give them six months’ notice and the person continues to live in the house.
Furthermore, the slow judicial process gives the recalcitrant tenant more time to stayin the apartment rent free.
I believe this law should be amended, although it’s important to commend the efforts of the Lagos State judiciary especially its mediation centerthathas madethingsabiteasier for landlords.
Landgrabbers and the challenge of acquiring properties in Lagos
The Land grabbers issue is an issue that has been in Lagos since time immemorial. In fact, land grabbingisnotjustpeculiartoLagos, it’s a nationwide problem.
All I can say is, if you want to purchase a land anywhere in Nigeria, the moment you site the land, get a lawyer and pay the lawyer to carry out due diligence. I can’t give anyone any advice on what to look out for because these people are very intelligent, convincing and deceptive.
All I can say is get a lawyer before you even start your searchforaland, andthelawyerwilldoallthe necessary things.
A lot of people think refusal to get a lawyer forsuch mattersavesthe money but is it’s just a case of penny wiseand pound foolish andit’s better to be safe than sorry. Issues of obtaining property are numerous, however every lawyer in Nigeria, has been trained to address all those issues.
So I would still stick to my earlier advice, get a lawyer. The onlything I can sayis the moment you obtain the property, take immediate possession. If it’s a bare land, cut the grass and fence it, if it’s a house, renovate and move in.
Do not buy a property and go to sleep with your papers at home. Be proactive.