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Crown Court (1972-84)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'The Ju-Ju Landlord, originally transmitted ITV, 3-5 March, 1976
Written by Buchi Emcheta, directed by Stephen Butcher

Mr Dawodu is accused of harassing his tenant Mrs Obi in order to force her out of the two rooms she claims she has been renting from him for five months. The harassment includes disconnecting the electricity, removing the front door and performing a ju ju spell against Mrs Obi.

Under questioning from his defence lawyer, Haverstock Brown QC, Mr Dawodu denies that Mrs Obi was ever a legal tenant - he merely gave her temporary shelter as she was in desperate need of housing. As for the money she claimed was rent money, this was payment for some catalogue items she had bought from his wife, Mrs Dawodu. He admits that he performed a ju-ju ceremony in front of Mrs Obi's window, weaving her name into a death chant, because he believed she had cast an 'evil eye' on him and he wanted to purify his house. The cross questioning, by prosecutor Louise Sandler QC, reveals that while Mr Dawodu has placed his two children in foster care, Mrs Obi holds down a full time job and looks after her 5 children.

After Mrs Dawodu takes the stand to back up her husband's version, witness Mr Solanke, the landlord of a neighbouring house, provides background detail to the twilight world of letting to immigrants - in this case Nigerians - without drawing the attention of the local authorities. He is himself a Nigerian, as are both parties in the dispute, but there emerges subtle hostilities between the two tribes, Yoruba and Ibo. In Mr Solanke's opinion the alleged rent for the two damp, infested rooms was extortionate.

When Mrs Obi takes the stand, she is able to prove that she paid a regular monthly amount, not for catalogue items, to Mr Dawodu.

The judge sums up the issues in the case for the jury. To find the defendant Mr Dawodu guilty they must be convinced on three points: that Mrs Obi was a tenant and not living rent free, that Mr Dawodu engaged in harassment and that this harassment was intended to influence Mrs Obi to give up occupation of the rooms.

The jury finds the defendant, Mr Dawodu, guilty.