Court Fixes April 9 for Hearing in N1.26tn Suit over National Theatre

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

A Federal High Court in Lagos thursday adjourned until April 9, to hear a suit by a company, Topwideapeas Limited, against the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation among others, challenging nullification of its concession over the National Theatre Complex.

In its court processes, Topwideapeas Ltd is a special purpose entity for the acquisition of the undeveloped land adjoining the National Theatre in Lagos.
In the new suit filed by plaintiff’s counsel, Mr. Chijoke Okoli (SAN), and marked /2392/19, the plaintiff wants the court to declare as unlawful, the termination of its concession over the theatre.

Joined as defendants are the National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria Board; Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation; and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Also joined are the Central Bank of Nigeria, Access Bank and Herbert Wigwe.

When the case was called yesterday Mrs Perpetual Onwunma appeared for the plantiff.
Miss Ibukun Owa appeared for the sixth and seventh defendants while Mr. Charles Nwabulu appeared for the fifth defendant.
Onwunma informed the court that parties had been duly served on March 4 and proof of service was in the court’s file.

However, since parties were still within time to respond, she requested that the case be adjourned to a short date for hearing of the Plaintiff’s motion for interlocutory injunction.

Plaintiff counsel urged that a date before the court’s Easter vacation be considered due to the facts and circumstances of the suit.
There was no objection from other counsel.

The court consequently adjourned the case until April 9, for hearing.

In the suit, 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 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.

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

It wants a declaration that it is contrary to public policy and constitutes misappropriation of “scarce public funds” for the fifth defendant to divert public funds towards any project concerning the National 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 around the National Theatre Complex.

It consequently, wants an order, directing the defendants to ensure a prompt handover of the fallow land in and around the National 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 N1 billion in damages, against the defendants.