“A landlord in the Idumota, Lagos Island area of Lagos State, Sola Solomon, has allegedly poured petrol and set fire to one of his tenants, identified simply as Abeeb, aka Ogbon.”
Punch Metro learnt that as the victim struggled to put out the flames, the 67-year-old landlord pushed him down from the top floor of the three-storey building.
The father of one was said to have landed with a thud, as the flames ate through his body.
Our correspondent was told that Abeeb had barely spent five months in the house located on Iga Idunganran Street, Idumota, when he was killed.
Punch Metro gathered that the incident was caused by a disagreement over the use of the compound toilet.
A tenant in the house, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the quarrel had been settled in the evening and she had pleaded with both parties to maintain the peace.
She said, “Before the incident of yesterday (Monday), there has been a quarrel in the house over the use of the toilet.
“Everybody had complained that the landlord always messed up the toilet after use.
“But yesterday, he had another quarrel with the Abeeb over the use of the toilet. During the argument, he threatened to set the man ablaze; the man also dared him.
“I called Abeeb and calmed him down; I also called the landlord and appealed to him to let the matter go, and he said he had forgiven Abeeb.”
Punch Metro learnt that the landlord, however, was sighted by residents later that evening carrying a jerrycan, saying he was going to buy fuel.
The Ondo State indigene was alleged to have bought the fuel and waited patiently in his room till the victim returned from a football viewing centre where he had gone to watch an European league match between Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs.
It was learnt that around 12am, the landlord wet the passageway of the house and knocked on the door of the deceased.
Another tenant, who asked not to be named, said the victim’s wife pleaded with him not to go out.
The continuous rap on the door was said to have forced Abeeb out to confront the intruder, only to see the landlord with a container of fuel.
He said, “As he stepped out of the house, the landlord poured the petrol on him. Before Abeeb could snatch the jerrycan from him, the landlord had ignited fire with a lighter in his hand.
“Abeeb struggled to put out the fire, but the landlord pushed him down from the third floor. He fell to the ground and died.”
Our correspondent gathered that the quick intervention of security guards in the area stopped the fire from escalating.
The other tenants in the house were said to have abandoned the building and fled for fear of being killed.
Punch Metro learnt that policemen from the Adeniji Adele Police Division later arrived at the scene to remove Abeeb’s corpse. The police also took the landlord, who sustained burns injuries to the hospital.
A resident, John Ameh, said the landlord was initially rejected at the Lagos Island General Hospital and was taken to the Gbagada General Hospital.
The former occupant of Abeeb’s room, Ruka Rufai, regretted passing the room to the deceased, saying she left the room due to constant threat to her life from the landlord.
She said, “I left that the room about five months ago. The landlord threatened me, so I decided to vacate the room. Abeeb pleaded with me that he needed the accommodation. Now, he has been killed.”
One of Abeeb’s friends, who did not want to be identified, expressed doubt that the suspect would face justice.
The friend, who claimed to be in the same football academy with the victim, said he was shocked when he learnt about the incident on the Facebook wall of a mutual friend.
Punch Metro was told that grief-stricken friends of the victim had planned to set the house ablaze, but could not due to the heavy presence of security agents.
A resident, Habib Suleiman, urged the state government to pursue the case against the suspect to a logical end and seize the property.