About two years after completion of a N37 billion contract project, the Akwa Ibom State government has moved to douse the payment of the consultancy fees of about N2.14 billion to the lead consultant, Otto Trinity Studios.
Akwa Ibom state government had in 2010 contracted or appointed, the Principal Partner, Otto Trinity Studios, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ubokutom Nyah as architectural consultant on the State Government House Complex, Uyo phase l, ll and lll.
On the completion of works, the contractors were said to have on April 20, 2015 approached the state government for the payment of the balance of the total contract sum.
Regrettably, the state government failed to meet the demands for the payment despite series of appeals.
Annoyed by the refusal of the state government to meet its side of obligation, Otto Trinity Studios instituted legal action against the state government joining in the suit no. HU/147/2016 dated July 26, 2017, the Attorney General of the state.
The claimant in the suit filed in High Court number eleven, Uyo is urging the court to restrain the defendants from occupying, entering or making use of the facility until his professional fees of over N2.14 billion, with interest of 2.5 per cent above the prevailing bank rate from February, 2016 till date is paid.
Counsel to the claimant, Barrister Mathew Akpan accused the state government of always feigning poverty, when it is glaring and common knowledge that they are presently wallowing in affluence.
The claimant alleged that, “in compliance with his appointment letters, he had provided the required professionals and rendered professional services in respect of the Government House projects, Uyo, phases l, ll and lll from January 2012 to January 2016 as the Chief Resident Architect.
When the defendants appeared in court recently, they actually admitted owing Otto Trinity Studios the sum of N48.66 million against the N2.14 billion being demanded or canvassed in the court by the litigants.
Based on the admission by the state government of owing, the claimant in a motion on notice dated August 14, 2017, urged the court to enter judgment in part, in his favour for the defendants to pay the sum of N48, 656, 233. 70 voluntarily admitted; while the parties continue with the case in respect of the contentious part of the claim.
Surprisingly, when the case came up in the court on Thursday, November 2, counsel to the defendants, Mrs Emen Daniel, an Assistant Director, Ministry of Justice filed a preliminary objection and urged the court to determine the juristic status of the claimant.
The Presiding Judge of the court, Justice Aniekan E. Akpan adjourned the case to November 23, 2017 to take argument in respect of preliminary objection.
In a related development, another legal action was filed by Otto Trinity Studios against the state government in respect of the ultra-modern Four Point Sheraton Hotel project, Ikot Ekpene which gulped N16 billion.
In the suit no.HU/148/2016, the claimant is also asking for the payment of the balance of the professional fees in the sum of N1.025 billion.
The State Government in its defense admitted only owing the sum of N54 million.
The claimant counsel, Mr. Innocent Eze also applied for part judgement of the admitted sum.
In her reaction, counsel to the defendants, Mrs Emen Daniel, an Assistant Director, Ministry of Justice who also filed a preliminary objection urged the court to determine the juristic status of the claimant.
The Presiding Judge of the court, Justice Aniekan E. Akpan alwo adjourned the case to November 23, 2017 to take argument in respect of preliminary objection.
Okon Bassey in Uyo