Concessionaire moves to stop handover of National Arts Theatre to CBN

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FG has been asked to stop the handover of the National Arts Theatre to the CBN pending the determination of a suit in court.

 

Topwide Consortium, a concessionaire, has asked the Federal Government to stop the handover of the National Arts Theatre to the Bankers’ Committee, led by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pending the determination of the suit in court.

This follows the disruption of its rights as the concessionaire to the National Arts Theatre after the firm had mobilized direct local and foreign investments in excess of $2 billion under the concession agreement.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the call is contained in a statement issued by Topwide Consortium Project Director, Mr Chris Ogan, on Saturday, March 6, 2021, in Awka.

Chris Ogan who initiated the suit said, “We are using this opportunity to reiterate our answer that the suit is very much pending and for which we have retained two commercial law Senior Advocates of Nigeria.’’

He said a motion for an interlocutory injunction to restrain any interference with the subject of the suit filed by their lawyers was also pending before the courts.

He also said the suit was filed in December 2019, with CBN, the Minister for Information, Tourism and Culture and Access Bank Plc. as some of the defendants.

 

Other defendants are Herbert Wigwe representing the Bankers Committee, the Board of the National Theatre, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Attorney-General of the Federation.

“The case was to come up on Dec. 15, 2020, but the Federal High Court, Lagos, which is hearing the case did not sit and it later adjourned the case to March 18, 2021.

We were also contracted to develop a high rise car park and provide appropriate connections to the Lagos light rail Metro Blue Line station planned for the National Theatre Complex.

“The agreement is that upon completion of the rehabilitation, the upgraded National Theatre would be handed over to the Federal Government for the continued management by the Board of the Complex,” he said.

He also said that they were surprised at the news of the planned takeover of the complex by the Bankers’ Committee, after the Attorney-General of the Federation signed-off finally on the concession agreement on May 3, 2017, and Road Shows were organised in Lagos, Abuja, Johannesburg, Dubai, London and New York to woo investors.

He said, “Our lawyers, on our instructions, wrote letters-dated Oct. 24, 2019, to all the concerned Federal Government agencies/agents to desist from tampering with our concession contract.’

None of the officers/agencies ever replied the letters and shunned our entreaties for meetings to clear whatever misunderstanding that informed their actions.’’

 

Ogan, therefore, called for strict compliance with due process and rule of law, over the handling of the matter.

He said forging ahead with the handover would not only result in contempt of the courts but also an embarrassment of Nigeria, before international investors.

  • It could be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on February 10, 2021, approved an agreement that will lead to the renovation of the National Theater, Iganmu, Lagos for N21 billion.
  • Subsequently, on February 15, 2021, the Bankers’ Committee, led by Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government with Cappa & D’Alberto Limited as the main contractors, Nairda Limited as the electrical sub-contractor and VACC Limited as the mechanical sub-contractor for the project
  • The Federal Government said the renovation will create thousands of jobs among other benefits.
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