Court adjourns N1.26Tn National Theatre dispute suit to October 29
Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned until October 29, this year, continuation of hearing in a N1.26trillion suit filed by a company, Topwideapeas Limited, challenging nullification of its concession over the National Theatre Complex.
In the suit filed by plaintiff’s Counsel, Mr. Chijoke Okoli (SAN) and marked FHC/L/CS/2392/19, the plaintiff wants the court to declare as unlawful, the termination of its concession over the theatre.
Joined, as defendants, are National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria Board; Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; Minister of Interior, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF); Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Access Bank and Herbert Wigwe.
The plaintiff is seeking a declaration that it is unlawful for the defendants to purport to truncate and nullify its rights as the concessionaire of the fallow land at the National Theatre by inducing a breach of its contract.
Justice Faji had on July 17, granted an ex-parte order, seeking attendance in court of the AGF, CBN, among others to appear and show cause why the National Theatre was handed over to developers, while it is subject of a pending suit before the court.
The ex parte application was filed and argued by Okoli.
At resumed hearing yesterday, Mr. Nelson Orji, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, appeared for the first to fourth defendant, Mr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) appeared for the fifth defendant, while Mr. Adeniyi Adegbomire (SAN) appeared for the sixth defendant.
Meanwhile, Mr. O.B Bioku appeared for a company, Jadens Trust Limited, a party seeking to be joined in the case, while Mr. Biodun Abe told the court that he was representing the National Theatre.
Okoli then reminded the court that the case was adjourned until yesterday for parties to appear and show cause, following the exparte order of the court.
In reaction, Orji informed the court that he had filed an application to show cause in response to the court order, a counter-affidavit and written address, as well as a motion for interlocutory injunction.
Orji also informed the court of his motion, dated July 7, seeking an enlargement of time to enter his memorandum of appearance.
On his part, Ajogwu informed the court that he had filed a notice of preliminary objection pending before the court since March, arguing that the plaintiff did not properly define the subject matter sought to be protected.
He said the reliefs sought were vague and has no beacon or survey plan.
Adegbomire, on his part, informed the court that he had filed an application to show cause in compliance with the courts order.
In his argument Orji said the concession, which the plaintiff is relying on, was not binding, as it was only a draft agreement, which was eventually revoked.
He argued that an injunction couldn’t be granted as a remedy for an action that has been completed and urged the court not to grant the plaintiff’s prayers.
Adegbomire questioned the relevance of the ‘fallow land’ referred to in the plaintiff’s motion, as it was not definitive and had nothing to link his clients.
He also asked that the application be dismissed with substantial cost for being ‘deliberately brought’ by ex-parte (without notice to other parties).
Okoli, in response, argued that they were delving into the main suit, which was improper, arguing that his ex-parte motion was geared at saving the dignity of the court, as he had sought for the subject matter to be maintained since the parties were before the court.
In a short ruling, Justice Faji held that the plaintiff’s motion ought to be brought by a motion on notice in view of the contentious nature of the case.
The court consequently struck out the motion, with cost of N50, 000 against the plaintiff and adjourned the case until October 29 for continuation of trial.
In its main suit, the plaintiff wants an order of court, directing the defendants to ensure a prompt handover of the fallow land in and about the National Theatre Complex to the plaintiff and its agents for commencement of construction of the projects planned under the concession agreement.
Plaintiff is claiming the sum of N1.26 trillion in damages against the defendants and also wants the court to declare that the plaintiff has a valid and binding contract on the concession of the fallow land surrounding the National Theatre Complex, in terms of the updated draft Concession Agreement between it and the Federal Government.
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