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Counsel’s absence stalls hearing in suit over rent increase in Enugu

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The absence of respondent’s counsel, yesterday, stalled hearing in the suit over house rent increase in Enugu metropolis brought against the Enugu State House of Assembly and its Speaker, Edward Ubosi.

The State Chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and a non-governmental organisation, Temple of Justice Pro-bono Foundation, had brought the suit on behalf of some tenants in the state.

The hearing could not proceed, as the respondent’s counsel was absent in court, prompting Justice H. U. Ezugwu of the High Court of Enugu Judicial Division to adjourn the matter to July 20, 2021.

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Lawyer to the applicants, Alex Amujiogu, who was present at the court, said they were compelled to institute a legal action against the respondents following their inability to legislate and enact a law to regulate house rents in the state.

He said they wrote several letters to this effect but to no avail, adding that under Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the lawmakers, under the leadership of Ubosi, are empowered to make laws for the purpose of administration of good governance in the state.

The applicants are seeking order of mandamus to compel the Speaker and the State House of Assembly to enact a law regulating the payment of house rents in the state.

They also urged the court to prohibit the respondents from embarking on any legislative duties or lawmaking processes until the law for the regulation of house rents in Enugu urban is duly enacted.

They also prayed the court to award cost against the respondents for damages in the sum of N10,000,000, which includes the cost of instituting the suit.

“We’re worried by the high rate of house rent in Enugu urban. After paying House rent, you will still pay agency fee and lawyer’s fee, which has become a burden to residents of the state. Just a small bedroom flat costs between N500,000 to N700,000 coupled with the agency fee.”

It is too exorbitant for a common man to bear.

“The purpose of all these skyrocketing house rents is because there’s no law checking the imposition of rents by landlords.”

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