Residents of a 10-room apartment building in Alagbado area of Lagos, be forgotten have always suspected that something sinister was going on in the apartment of their bricklayer neighbour, Mr. Ismaila Ladoja, a native of Oyo State.
But they claimed that none of them could take the responsibility of reporting the matter to the police.
In a bizarre story that has produced accusations and counter-accusations by the accused man, the residents of the house alleged that Ladoja was sleeping with his 22-year-old daughter, Ife.
According to them, after confronting him a number of times, he denied the accusation each time. One of the residents who got through to Saturday PUNCH, claimed they felt the matter would simply be forgotten, until few weeks ago.
“We noticed over the last few months that Ife’s tummy was growing bigger. We knew something was wrong but one day, we noticed that she was bleeding,” a neighbour who only spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said.
One of the occupants of the house alleged that Ladoja and the girl’s mother might have colluded to abort Ife’s pregnancy.
Asked why the mother would be involved, the neighbour said, “He beats his wife regularly. The woman dare not talk. In fact, when she was asked about it, she flatly denied the allegations.
“Everybody in the compound knew what was going on. So, the girl was kept indoors for about a week. We noticed that she fainted a few times when she was kept at home. So, they rushed her to the hospital.
“We asked the man where he took the girl to but he said she had been taken to a hospital because she was ill but would not disclose where. How can we report to the police when we have not been able to catch him on top of his daughter?”
None of the residents has been able to produce any evidence apart from their observations.
“Sometimes, he would send his other children out of the house, and when we ask the children why, they tell us that their father is inside with their elder sister and had asked them to go play outside,” one of the tenants said.
Another tenant hinted that residents of the last apartment Ladoja rented on the street knew about the matter, claiming that he was accused of the same thing while he was there.
Our correspondent visited 4, Ajibola Street, where a tenant said all the tenants who were living there at the time Ladoja would have been there had been sent packing but Saturday PUNCH obtained a phone number of one of them.
The man on the phone who like the rest, pleaded anonymity, alleged that Ladoja had been suspected to be sleeping with his daughter when he was living there for a long time before he left.
He said, “Do you expect the wife to tell you the truth? She is just a poor woman who is helpless and does not want to put her husband in trouble. He was always locked up with the girl while the other children stayed outside when we were living together. He always denied sleeping with the girl.
“But the girl was always moody. She cried sometimes. When we asked what was wrong with her, she would never say it.”
When our correspondent contacted Ladoja’s landlord, an elderly woman who identified herself as Mrs. Shorinolu, she instantly pleaded with our correspondent to get him arrested, initially thinking it was a government official she was speaking with.
“Soon after this man packed in, in 2012, I started getting reports of the atrocities he had been committing. I was told by some landlords on the street that he was sent packing from his former apartment because he was sleeping with his daughter,” she said.
“My daughter is the one who is in charge of the building and can give you all the necessary details,” she said.
Mrs. Shorinolu’s daughter, a headmistress of a school, explained that when she gave Ladoja a notice to quit, he brought some co-tenants to her, who pleaded profusely on his behalf.
She said, “He promised that he would send his daughter out to live with his relations. He packed into the house in July 2012. Neither myself nor my mother live there. We only go there once in a while to check if all is well.
“When we got the report that he was sleeping with his daughter last year, he had already paid for one and half years. After the pleading we allowed him to stay till the end of his rent and he paid for another six months.
“We were hoping that when that rent expired in June, we would send him packing but he had refused to leave. One of the elders in the neighbourhood who had pleaded on his behalf initially, was shocked when I told him of the report we have been getting about him.”
Our correspondent contacted the elder, Mr. Emmanuel Oloyede, who said he found it hard to believe that the man could do such a thing because he had not seen any concrete evidence.
“When I spoke with the girl’s mother, she only said her daughter had malaria and was rushed to the Holyfield Hospital,” he said.
However, after a few days of tracking Ladoja without success, our correspondent met his wife, Ife’s mother, at home on Friday.
The woman who told our correspondent she was 40 years old lamented that she trusted her husband enough to know that he would never do such a thing.
“We suffer so much and my husband labours day and night to put food on the table. We have seven children and have been using a one-room apartment since we got married 22 years ago. So, what do we have that anybody would envy to the extent of cooking up such allegation?
“It is a total lie that she fainted or was bleeding. She only had malaria which became really serious and we had to take her to someone who treated her.”
Asked to give the phone number of the doctor at Holyfield Hospital, who treated her daughter. She said her daughter was not treated at Holyfield.
“I took her to a drug store owner, who gave her drips and few drugs. Ife currently lives with my mother.
“How can someone sleep with his own child? Is it wrong to love one’s child unconditionally?”
At a point, the woman began to cry, lamenting that she had no idea why her family was being victimised even though they were poor.
When our correspondent asked her how to contact her daughter she said she would need to inform the girl first.
“I had to give her my phone to use for the time being,” she said. But when our correspondent asked for her daughter’s phone number she said she did not know it. She also declined giving the address of where the girl was staying.
Saturday PUNCH later got through to Ladoja on the phone.
When asked about his neighbours’ accusations, Ladoja explained that he had no idea why anybody would think he would do such a thing to his child.
“Why would I as a Yoruba man do such a thing to my adult child? May God punish those people who have been saying those bad things about me. They simply hate me,” he said.
Asked why he took his daughter to hospital and why she was bleeding, the bricklayer said, “She simply had malaria. Truly, we had kept her indoors for some days. It is just another lie by my neighbours that she was bleeding.
“After some days and her situation deteriorated, we rushed her to the hospital. We had given her drug for her malaria but it did not seem to work.”
Ladoja said he could not remember the name of the hospital.
He was also told that residents of 4, Ajibola Street, where he lived before his current address, had also levelled the same allegation.
“I am sure it was these same people who spread the allegation to where I am currently living,” Ladoja said. “God will bless you for calling me. I am really happy you want to publish this because the world needs to understand the lie this people have been spreading about me. Did anyone of them catch me red-handed sleeping with my daughter?”
Ladoja explained that his place of work was too far when our correspondent asked to see him personally. “I can come and see you when I am free,” he said.
Asked if his daughter became pregnant for someone else since the neighbours claimed that her tummy was protruding at a time, Ladoja said it was another lie.
Asked if he had been involved in a dispute that might warrant anybody spreading such allegation to smear his reputation, Ladoja said no.