PHEDC seeks out-of-court settlement over N5 billion damages suit
• Court adjourns to October for final determination of matter
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) has sought an out-of-court settlement with the Chairman of Emohua Local Council, Dr. Chidi Lloyd.
The company’s decision came after Lloyd instituted a N5 billion suit for damages and breach of contract entered in November 2022.
Recall that in May, the council boss instituted a N5 billion suit against the PHEDC over breach of contract to restore electricity in Emohua Local Council after paying 50 per cent as being the council’s part of the funds required for the restoration of electricity in the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)entered with PHED in December 2022, for which the PHED was alleged to have failed to carry out.
When the matter was mentioned at the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, yesterday, counsel to PHEDC, O. E Imonivwerha, notified the court of the defendant’s intention to settle out of court, thereby, requesting the court to accept the terms of the agreement as consent judgment of the court.
However, the claimant’s counsel, Prof. Festus Emiri, objected to the application, but the Judge, Justice S.H Aprioku, declined to strike out the matter, maintaining that until the company shows concrete commitment to the terms of the settlement.
Justice Aprioku, consequently, adjourned to October 5, for the final determination of the matter.
Addressing newsmen outside the courtroom, Llody’s counsel, Prof. Emiri said the PHEDC initiated the out-of-court settlement, while reassuring that by August 31, the council will be reconnected to the grid.
He said: “Emohua people should be happy because PHEDC said they will give them light and in the next six weeks they will energise all the communities in the area.
“Basically, those are the terms of settlement and we have agreed on that, so the court adjourned to October 5, so that Emohua will enjoy the light.”
On her part, Counsel for PHEDC, Imonivwerha, said: “We have already filed the terms of settlement as consent judgment of the court. And the court wants us to complete the work before it will enter the terms of settlement as consent judgment.”
Reacting, the Emohua Council boss, who seemed to be happy with the position of the court said: “What we tried to do as a council was to get people to be responsible.”
We do not subscribe to a memorandum of understanding and renege on it and think that the other person will not pursue his or her right in court.
“They approached us and said the total money required for the project is N48.2 million and if we pay 50 per cent, they will give us light on or before December 24, 2022. So, we went ahead and on December 6, we signed the MoU with them in my office. Thereafter, no trace of light till May when we filed the suit in the Port Harcourt division of the High Court,” he said.
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