Lagos Entertainment Firm Seeks N45m from Bayelsa Government

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Lagos-based entertainment promotion company, Inspiro Productions Limited has initiated moves to recover about N45 million allegedly owed it by the Bayelsa State Government. The amount in contention is the balance payment for services engaged by the Bayelsa State Tourism Board during the maiden edition of the Bayelsa International Jazz Festival held four years ago.

Solicitors to Inspiro, Creative legal Seun Omotoba and Co., whom had been in the forefront of negotiations for a peaceful resolution of the impasse between his client and the Bayelsa State Tourism Agency indicated in a letter that the talks had broken down irretrievably and his client had given him the go-ahead to seek redress for same.

Inspiro Productions, which is famed for its city-themed Jazz music festivals, has been promoting the Lagos International Jazz Festival and NAIJAZZ festivals for over one decade. The company is also in the forefront of helping shape the emerging Nigeria creative economy. It was based on this reputation that the Bayelsa State Government through its tourism agency engaged the company to secure the participation of local and Nigerian artistes for the first ever Bayelsa State International Jazz Festival in 2013. Part of the consultancy deal for Inspiro also included providing technical equipment and services for the event.

The enduring delay in off-setting the debt to Inspiro, according to their lawyers has led to incalculable damage to their business, particularly the relationship with few of its foreign partners based in both South Africa and the United States.

Justin Ige of Creative Legal Seun Omotoba & co. said certain interests in the Bayelsa State government appear to be bent on frustrating the series of meetings which had begun at the office of the Special Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson on Legal Matters, Barrister H. Igbani, with the current D.G. of the Bayelsa State Tourism Development agency Mrs. Ebiere Musah present. According to Mr. Ige, all the efforts appear to lead nowhere as Mrs. Musah on the government’s side has failed to keep the understanding reached by both parties, more than eight months ago.

Part of Mr. Ige’s letter to Mrs. Musah, with his Excellency and Igbani in copy read, “We also recall your warm reception too, even though it will be difficult for anyone to reconcile your attitude after the meeting with the attitude expected of anyone who is sincere about an amicable resolution. Since the day we returned to Lagos, there has been no promise you kept. You will recall that it was resolved at the meeting that you will revert with the decision of his Excellency, the Governor. You will recall also our several phone calls, and text messages. We find it quite embarrassing that you have chosen not to answer our phone calls nor reply text messages anymore.”

Mr. Ige further said he was taking these steps since he was convinced that the Government of Bayelsa State was acting in a manner suggestive of being deliberately out to ruin his client and bring their business to disrepute. He entered a passionate plea to “any sense of fair treatment, good conscience and equity that may lie within your person to no longer ignore the plight of someone who worked hard to improve the tourism potentials of Bayelsa State.”

While Mrs. Musah’s comments could not be obtained as she neither answered her calls nor replied text messages, Dr. Igbani told our reporter on the phone, “I would not say that the talks have broken down irretrievably. I tried to broker an understanding between Inspiro and the Tourism Agency. They say the state government is indebted to them to a certain tune. I have asked that they furnish us with documents to support their claim. Once we have that, we will make recommendations to His Excellency. We have not heard from them since.”