Court to Hear $3.5bn Concession Suit over National Theatre Complex March 3

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Davidson Iriekpen

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday adjourned until March 3, to hear a suit by a company, Topwideapeas Limited, against the Minister of Interior, challenging the nullification of its concession over the National Arts Theatre Complex.

Topwideapeas Limitedd, in the processes it submitted in court, described itself as a special purpose entity for the acquisition of the management right over the National Arts Theatre and its undeveloped lands in Lagos for which $3.5 billion had been earmarked for its development.

In the new suit filed by plaintiff”s counsel, Mr. Chijoke Okoli (SAN), and marked /2392/19, the company prayed the court to declare as unlawful, the termination of its concession over the theatre.

Joined as defendants are: National Arts Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria Board, Infrastructure Concesession Regulatory Commission, Minister of Interior, and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Also joined are the Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB), and the Access Bank and its Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe.

Plaintiff is seeking a declaration that it is unlawful for the fifth to seventh defendants, to purport to truncate and nullify its rights as the concessionaire of the fallow land at the National Arts Theatre, by inducing a breach of its contract.

It wants the court to declare that the plaintiff has a valid and binding contract on the concession of the fallow land surrounding the National Theatre Complex in terms of the updated draft Concession Agreement between it and the federal government.

It wants the court to declare the approval of the Federal Executive Council, as being a mere formality in the circumstances.

The plaintiff further wants the court to declare that it is unlawful for the fifth to seventh defendant to truncate and nullify the plaintiff’s right over the concession of the fallow land in and about the National Arts Theatre Complex lganmu. Lagos.

It wants a declaration that it is contrary to public policy and constituting a misappropriation of “scarce public funds” for the fifth defendant to divert public funds towards any project concerning the National Arts Theatre, when the plaintiff and its partner have mobilised local and foreign private investment into developing same.

The plaintiff therefore, wants an order of perpetual injunction, stopping the defendants and their agents or privies, from interfering or doing anything whatsoever, inconsistent with the. plaintiff’s right as the concessionaire of the fallow land in and about the National Arts Theatre Complex.

It consequently, wants an order, directing the defendants to ensure a prompt handover of the fallow land in and about the National Arts Theatre Complex, to the plaintiff and its agents, for commencement of construction of the projects planned under the concession agreement.

Plaintiff is claiming the sum of N1billion in damages, against the defendants.