FG’s Handover Of National Theatre To CBN Under Threat As Investors Demand Compliance With Earlier Concession Bid

July 26, 2020

Crisis arising from Federal Government’s handover of the National
Theatre to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Bankers Committee
is further escalating as an investor  has petitioned the apex bank demanding full compliance with concession bid earlier conducted on the facility in 2015.

It would be recalled that two companies, Topwide Apeas and Jadeas
Trust had earlier made similar move and even went to court over the
facility. The case has been slated for hearing on October 29, 2020.

While that is pending, the management of Calzada Limited has written
to the CBN, saying it participated in a very competitive concession
bid conducted by the Federal Government on ‘The Fallow Land around the National Theatre’ and emerged as the ‘Preferred Bidder.’

The company said it had gone ahead after winning the bid, and began
setting up structures and facilities for the project before the current government came into office and unilaterally put a wedge on its progress.

The letter, written by its legal representatives, Elias Mordi and Co,
dated July 17 is titled- ‘Re-Concession of the fallow land around the National Theatre in line with master plan (Nigeria Entertainment) City,” has as its subtitle “Demand for Justice and Compliance with the bid awarded to Caldaza Limited.
In the letter, the company told the CBN Governor, that after the bidding, contested by seven other companies, the Federal Government,  through the then Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke had written and notified it as haven
emerged as the ‘Preferred Bidder’ for the project.

“Our client was shocked to learn, upon coming into force of the present government that the project has been taken off her shoulders
and given to a third party company which never participated in the
bidding exercise. More worrisome is the wave of news and information
through print and electronic media that the federal government of
Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers’ Committee
have concluded plans to take over and indeed taken over, the same
project which was duly awarded to our client which was driven out
thereof in a Gestapo matter. We can confirm the assertion under this
head as have learnt of suit No. FHC/L/CS/2932/2019 Topwides Apeas Lted
Vs National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria Board & 6 Ors
pending before the Honourable Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal
High Court, Ikoyi Lagos,” Elias Mordi and Co, wrote.

Continuing, the letter stated that “Government is a continuum. And we,
by this letter, and on behalf of our client (Calzada Ltd), call on your office and that of the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation which is the Chief Law Office of Nigeria to review the steps taken by
the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies in this complaint and return the issues, subject matter and premises in question to status quo when our client was awarded the concession of the fallow lands of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.

“We have overtime, searched every available records and cannot find
where the selection of our client was faulted by any rightful authority and more worrisome is the way and manner the whole activities are being handled by persons our client cannot identify in
the project,” it stated.

The company, therefore declared its capability, willingness and readiness to carry on, execute the project to a logical conclusion and hand it over, in line with the agreement and other paper work in that regard.

Signed by Uche Amulu, Esq, the company informed the CBN that following
its winning of the concession bid, it had invested huge sums of money
to activate activities at the project site, adding that the letter was
seeking amicable resolution of all the issues raised and to give credibility to the process already taken by the government and Calzada Limited.

It stated however that Calzada would not hesitate to activate legal proceedings against all concerned if the grievances were not resolved
and on time. With the series of petitions and litigations from investors on the
handover of the National Theater to the CBN, Nigeria may once again be
walking the famished road of impunity of unilateral cancellation of
concession agreements which halted all activities at the plant sites
of the multibillion Dollars Ajaokuta Steel Company, Delta Steel company and the National Iorn Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO all of which are now in comatose following disputes for which concessionaires took Nigeria to the international court of arbitration, claiming billions of Dollars.

Apart from those, Nigeria is still spending millions of Dollars to
extricate itself from the 9.6Billion US Dollars judgment debt awarded
against the country by a UK court in favour of an Irish engineering
and project management company, Process and Industrial Development
Ltd, P&ID over a failed contract.

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