Allege, Accuse, Property

Sample 1: “Tella, a veteran media practitioner, also alleged Ogundokun of causing mayhem in Iwo, having failed in his several attempts to remove Oba Akanbi.”( Iwo chief chides Ogundokun, accuses him of orchestrating Oluwo’s removal, Biorepoters, online, 3 November, 2020)

We pay attention to the expression “alleged…of” which occurs in the following context: “Tella…also alleged Ogundokun of causing mayhem in Iwo…”The particle of, attached to the verb alleged, properly collocates with the verb accuse: accuse of. The expression “alleged…of” is clearly unidiomatic. In addition, it is important to note that the syntactic structure in which the verb allege occurs is different from that in which accuse occurs, even though they have similar meanings.

Equally important is the fact that the particle for does not go with the verb accuse. The appropriate particle is: of.

Please read the following sentences: 1) The man and his wife accused each other of infidelity. 2) The APC and the PDP accused each other of manipulating the electoral process in certain parts of the country. 3) Nobody in good conscience could accuse General Muhammadu Buhari of stealing public funds. 4) When a party fails to win an election, it tends to accuse INEC of colluding with the other party to commit electoral fraud. 5) The governor accused his deputy of scheming to unseat him. 6) Voters accused soldiers of intimidating them on the day of the election.

Now the verb allege:  The following sentences, produced by some Nigerians, are defective: 1a)* We quarrel often because he keeps alleging me of things I know nothing about. Better: 1b) We quarrel often because he keeps accusing me of things I know nothing about. 2a) *The parties are alleging each other of manipulating the electoral process. Better: 2b) The parties are accusing each other of manipulating the electoral process.  3a) *The man alleged his lawyer of colluding with his opponent. Better: 3b) The man accused his lawyer of colluding with his opponent. 4a) *The old woman alleged the lady running the mill of stealing some of her pepper and grains. Better: 4b) The old woman accused the lady running the mill of stealing some of her pepper and grains. 5a) *The man alleged his wife of cheating on him. Better: 5b) The man accused his wife of cheating on him. 6a) *The union alleged the company of failing to fulfil its promise. Better: 6b) The union accused the company of failing to fulfil its promise.

Readers may be interested in knowing that there is a proper way of using the word allege. Please read the following sentences: 1) Members of the president’s cabinet were alleged to have sabotaged his efforts to improve electricity supply. 2) The reports of the outcome of the election were alleged to have been written before the election took place. 3) Members of the ruling party alleged that INEC was partial in favour of a particular party. 4) The suspect alleged that the deceased was sleeping with his (the suspect’s) wife. 5) The lawyer alleged that the judge had been compromised. 6) It wasallegedthat a particular landlord had links with the armed robbers terrorizing the neighbourhood. 7) It wasalleged that the coach was taking bribes before admitting the players into the camp. 8) Soldiers were alleged to have killed several peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.9) It was alleged that the leadership did not act promptly enough. 10) It is alleged that workers’ contributory retirement funds are being embezzled by government officials.

Sample 2: “…hoodlums stole the staff of the Oba of Lagos and also stole some his properties after vandalizing his palace. The hoodlums were seen in a viral video as they broke into the palace and stole the Oba’s properties…Senator Shehu Sani is among those people who have come out to criticize the stealing of the Oba of Lagos’ staff of office and other properties…( Whoever stole the staff of the Oba and his shoe…Opera News, 23 October, 2020)

We note the word properties which occurs in three contexts as follows: “stole some of his properties”; “stole the Oba’s properties”;  and “Staff of office and other properties”.

Please note that the word (properties) in each of its three appearances is in its plural form. Note, furthermore, that the properties in question are included among the items made away with by hoodlums. In other words, those properties are placed in the same category as the Oba’s staff of office.

The reporter seems confused as to the grammatical characteristics of the noun property. There are two basic ways of regarding the word.

Whenever we use the word property to refer personal effects or movable items such as shoes, clothes, furniture, television sets, fridges, generators, and even motor cars, we should use it in its singular form. No matter the volume or quantity of such items, the word property should remain in its singular form and the choice of verb should be singular. Please read the following sentences: 1) The landlord has seized the tenant’s property kept in two rooms, saying he won’t release it until and unless he pays all his debt. 2) No matter how long you stay in the UK, your property will remain in this room and it will be intact.  3) Before I woke up, he had gathered all his property and travelled back to our home town. 4) Since he owns little property, he doesn’t need more than one room. 5) Fire destroyed the entire house including his sister’s property kept in one of the rooms. 6) His property consists of a few items all of which are kept in one huge bag. 7) After working for two years, his property is so much that he needs to rent a second room. 8) Thieves broke into the room and made away with almost all his property. 9) He has found a new house and his children are helping to carry her property to the new place. 10) Two trucks carried his property to his newly built house. 11) In those days, slaves were considered part of the personal property of rich men. 12) Shoes and shirts are the most prominent elements of my property.

The word property has been used in its singular form in each of those sentences because it is about personal effects, household items, movable belongings. However, when the word is employed in reference to land and houses, it can be used in the singular sense if the reference is to a singular item or in the plural if the reference is to two or more items. Indeed, whenever the word property is used in the plural by knowledgeable people, the assumption is that the reference is to land/houses. It should not be used in the plural sense if the reference is to personal effects as discussed and illustrated earlier.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The government has decided to sell all its properties in the choicest parts of the country. 2) Properties are more expensive in Lagos than in any other part of Nigeria. 3) I have three uncles who are into the business of buying and selling of properties. 4) There is an uncompleted property which the owner wants to sell at a moderate price. 5) I have refused to buy that property because it is too close to a stream. 6) The prosecution has alleged that the politically exposed persons have acquired the said properties with the proceeds of corruption. 7) Only teachers are allowed to buy and own properties in the estate. 8) I want to acquire a property in an exclusive area. 9) He rejected the property because it was too close to the police barracks. 10) Being in a marshy and undeveloped area, the property should not be expensive. 11) Nigerian politicians are notorious for buying and owning expensive properties in Europe and America. 12) The EFFC has traced the two properties to a prominent politician.

From the discussion and analysis so far, it should be obvious that the word property should be in its singular form in the three contexts under review.




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