By Udora Orizu
The House of Representatives Joint Committees on Airforce and Justice has embarked on an oversight function to carry out on the spot assessment on the alleged excessive use of force by the Nigerian Airforce Property against Blue Boulevard Nigeria Limited.
This is coming months after the House had in a petition by Blue Boulevard promised to wade into the matter to see that issues are resolved amicably by parties involved.
The Company is accusing the Nigeria Airforce property of using excessive force and military might against them and reneging in a contractual agreement they had to build a shopping mall at the Mammy market in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The tour had the presence of the both parties with the Committee demanding for the bid of quantities, engineering drawing and joint evaluation report tendered.
In his opening speech the leader of the delegation Hon. Dekor Robinson promised to be fair and transparent in their report
He said, “The reason why we are here is to visit the site and this is in furtherance of duties as it affects this particular investigation as it affects the house. whatever we are going to do here will form part of our report to be submitted to plenary. So what we expect from you is to give us the best cooperation so that we can address this issue and have a permanent resolution to this particular problem. Our mission here is mere fact finding so i crave your indulgence to give us the best in terms of contributions. After the inspection i will expect we also sit briefly to address one or two issues before we depart.”
The Managing Director of Blue Boulevard Peter Osunde, said 640 shops for cluster one were all sold out with occupancy rate of about 20 percent
He said “When things were rosy we sell a shop for 5Million naira per but today in order to keep the venture going we sell a shop at 250 thousand for 20 years. In total we have three clusters of total shops of 2000. Cluster one, all hundred percent finished, occupied and paid for. Cluster 2 has 860 shops of which 430 are finished and 430 are 70% completed. Where we stopped was where we were invaded and made to stop while cluster 3 is 500 shops with 50% done.”
Osunde noted that the ongoing project was halted following the invasion of the Miliatry in March 2017.
He decried the distortion of agreement one in the contract which gave thirty-two hectares of land documented, signed and later went into agreement 2 with 6 hectares of land. He said work currently on ground had only captured three hectares as against the agreement reached.
”We had worked agreement one till 2015 and led to agreement two. The first agreement was for 20 thousand shops
All investment are receipted and we have invested over 11billion naira to date. Our contract is meant to enjoy the contract for twenty years, so what is the value of our 11 billion naira investment if the money was put in the bank. We are demanding that the sum of 72 billion be paid and NAF property is yet to reach us. We demolished the site and got rid of about a hundred thousand Nigerians and settled them.”
Osunde said the sum of 11.2 had been spent since 2009 to September 30th 2020.
He said, ”The bank loan comes in a quarter and we are cutting off in September. We surveyed all the banks through the Central Bank of Nigeria and took the least loan which is 9.62 percent and the loan we have with First Bank is costing us 28 percent, so all we are saying is pay us 39.62 percent.”
”NAF property had written to us in October 2017 to negotiate for an out of court settlement but they did not do the needful and took us on a merry-go-round, meanwhile a three billion naira loan taken from first bank continued to increase. Because of their unwillingness to pay, it costing the federal government and they have continued to push the evil days forward at a huge cost to everybody.”
”The contract has been breached and narrated in the court order. NAF property should pay us off and in law he who is worthy of a legal damage is in position to pay. After they invaded they wrote us without following due process and took the law in their own hands. Recall that a federal High Court in Port Harcourt has ordered men of the Nigerian Airforce to vacate the premises of Blue Boulevard limited, a multi shopping complex on Aba Port Harcourt. Let this matter be resolved and let NAF pay us off. Justice Hillary Oshomah who gave the order in an application filed by Peter Osunde ( 1st Applicant , Blue Boulevard limited (2nd Applicant) against Nigerian Airforce properties limited said the continued stay of men of the air force at the business premises was ultra vires and beyond her statutory responsibilities.”
On his part, Managing Director NAF property, Air Vice Marshal Bagari however said the clusters did not represent completion.
He said at the point of agreement the completion of the project was the point, it was tenantable and didn’t expect that anyone renting this place will rent a carcass in order to complete it with all facilities in place.
A lawmaker, Hon. Boma Goodhead, however sought to know if NAF properties had sent a representative to monitor construction.
She queried the non presence of NAF property while work was ongoing.
Responding, Hon. Dekor said, ”I can assure you that our visit will put an end to this crisis and i want to re-emphasise that we are here in the interest of Nigerians. We will come to a table and make sure everybody is happy. We are here by the special grace of God, so let us take good advantage from the opportunity that God has placed before us. If we take a very hard line we will not achieve our aim. We have visited the site and we will brief the committee when we get back to Abuja. The joint committees will do justice to this.”
Also the Chairman House Committee on Air Force, Hon. Shehu Koko assured that justice will be done when the report is laid on the floor of the House.