An Akwa Ibom state High Court sitting in court eleven in Uyo, yesterday, Tuesday, October 24, 2017, awarded another cost against the government of Akwa Ibom state in a suit filed at the High Court by Otto Trinity Studios, seeking for the payment, by the state government, of a N2b professional fees, allegedly owed the firm of architects for the design of the government house complex in Uyo.
A mild drama ensued shortly after the case, HU/147/2016, had been called, when the plaintiff’s Counsel, Obong Matthew Akpan, drew the attention of the court to the non-payment of an earlier cost of Ten Thousand Naira awarded in favour of the plaintiff, by the defendants, and urged the court to intervene. Counsel to the defendants, Mrs Emem V. Daniel, drew the attention of the court to a similar award of N40,000, against the plaintiff by a vacation court, where the plaintiff had gone seeking similar reliefs as those already before the High Court eleven, and was consequently dismissed and declared an abuse of court process; that has also not been paid. She was ruled out of order as the issue was not before the court.
Mrs. Daniel subsequently sought for and obtained the account number where the cost, awarded in May 2017, was to be remitted to, after which the defendants were allowed to move their motion on notice.
The motion on notice by the defendants, seeking for the extension of time for filing of their processes of court was thereafter moved.
Even though the plaintiff Counsel did not oppose the elongation of time sought for by the defendants, he prayed for a cost against the government and was accordingly awarded a cost of another Ten Thousand Naira.
The Presiding Judge, Hon Justice Aniekan E. Akpan, granted the defendants’ reliefs and ordered that time be extended for the defendants to file their memorandum of appearance, statement of defence, witness statement on oath, list of witnesses and other processes on the suit, and the processes being deemed as property filed. The court further ordered the plaintiffs to file their reply to the statement of defence and adjourned the case to Nov. 2, 2017 for pre-hearing conference. In court to witness the proceedings was the Special Assistant to the governor on Legal Matters, Mr. Andem Ndem.
Mr. Ubokutom Nya’s Otto Trinity, had in 2016 sued the Akwa Ibom State government for failure to meet government’s contractual obligations to the firm by refusing to offset professional fees owed by government for the design and other architectural jobs on the government house complex in Uyo.
According to Nyah, he only received N16,744,041.91 in 2015 as part payment for his professional fees out of N872,414,409.40. He explained that despite an outstanding debt of N1,286,347,837.30, he and his colleagues continued to render their services to the government as stated in their contract, which came into effect in 2012, till January 2016. He added that at the time of filing the suit, the debt had grown to N2,133,547,837.30.