By Kenneth Jukpor
Following the Federal Government’s announcement that it has revoked the Lagos Trade Fair complex concession through the National Council on Privatization, the Chairman of the concessionaire, Aulic Nigeria Limited (ANL), Prof. Nick Ezeh has debunked the report in what he labeled “miscarriage of judicial process”.
Prof Nick Ezeh, who was speaking during an interview with journalists expressed shock on the news, saying “This is democracy; impunity and abuse of law is not allowed under any democratic government, especially when we have a senior advocate as the head of affairs at the National Council on Privatization (NCP) in the person of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo”.
Explaining the challenges the company had been facing since the concession, Prof. Nick said, “Since 2007, when we won the concession, the government has not handed over. It has been protracted. We have it in court order; records that the NCP at various times has directed that they should go and hand over the place. But the management board led by the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Commerce has refused to do that with their management board”
Speaking further, he said that the matter is before the court. “We have had 192 meetings-post concession; 42 appearances at the National Assembly; 36 court cases and we have not lost one and the outstanding matter is that there is a court order directing Federal Government and its agencies to maintain statuesque and take no step. Court order directed that the NCP is not a party to the concession agreement and should not take any unilateral action against the concession and the matter is still in court. It is very important to stress that the prevailing court order has not been revoked, it has not been withdrawn, it has not been vacated, and it is still subsisting”
He argued further on the concession withdrawal, “What they did, that is, if they actually did it, because they have not written us, they didn’t hear us, they did not invite us, is simply a unilateral decision and we are reading it on the pages of newspaper. Such things do not stand the rule of law”.
“As am talking to you, they have also employed the services of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) but we do not owe Federal Government one naira. Their last submission is that they have not handed over and they could cut out some areas, refund us what money we paid for the entire trade-fair complex, but they have not done that. If they do, then we will sit down and recompute the cost of the concession and it is either we pay them or they refund us.
He expressed worry, saying “All this have not been done and they went ahead unilaterally abusing the rule of law and process in announcing the revocation of the concession and that is the cause of the matter”.
Meanwhile, he revealed the Court Order granted by Justice AFA Ademola of an Abuja Federal High Court, with reference number, FHC/ABJ/CS/382/13., the Court ruled that “Parties are hereby ordered to maintain statuesque pending the hearing and determination of application filed in this suit”.
Aulic Nigeria Limited had sued Lagos Trade Fair Management Broad, NCP, BPE, Ministry of Trade, Investment and Commerce, both Minister of State Justice and AGF on May 30, 2013. The case is yet to be decided before the pronouncement of revocation of the concession by the NCP.
The National Council on Privatization, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, revealed in a press release that it had approved the immediate revocation of the concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said this in a statement on Monday, noting that the trade fair complex was in 2008 given to Aulic Nigeria Limited as a concession, a move that had helped in bringing about improved development in the complex with the added export hub which now provide opportunity for traders to ship goods abroad from the complex..
The Aulic’s legal counsel, Mr. Dan Udeh said the revocation order was a farce as the matter was still pending before the court. “We will do everything within the law to ensure that we get justice since the matter is still in court. We want to believe that the federal government acted out of ignorance and this is what we will prove before the court,” he said.
He said the federal government has fired the first bullet of a pending war against Ndigbo, and added that the concessionaire would be taking the matter to the International Court of Commerce, where he hopes to get justice.
National president of Igbo Youth Congress, Mr. Jerry Ugwu, has said that the revocation of the Lagos Trade Fair Complex concession to Aulic Nigeria Limited by the federal government amounts to disobedience of court order.
Also speaking on the matter, Ezeigbo of Ojo, Pat Eneh, said it was another move to completely annihilate the Igbo.
“We will not fold our hands and allow this kind of thing to happen because the federal government is aware that the case is in court. There is a substantive order in court and government cannot say it was not aware of it. They acted in ignorance and nobody is above the law. I know this it is happening because the concessionaire is an Igbo man. This is another strategy to sabotage and annihilate the Igbo. They said we can’t have Biafra and now, they want to destroy our means of livelihood.”
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