HURIWA ADVOCATES AUTONOMY FOR LOCAL COUNCILS AND SUPPORTS RURAL HEALTH CARE CENTRES:- November 13th 2020

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In the execution of our mandate as a civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has followed a matter that was in the competent Court of law for sometimes and later resolved concerning the project conceived by ALGON to build functional health care centres all across Nigeria.

We are pleased that the import of the judgment is that the construction of these community based public heath care centres must Not in any way be interfered with by the governors forum in the federation. We commend the verdict but also ask the Governors forum to refrain from the sinister plots to undermine the projects because of their selfish interests.

Our interest is centred on the essence of this matter which speaks to the issue of autonomy for local councils of Nigeria in line with section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended and we strongly canvass the implementation to its completion these projects that would significantly boost the healthcare of the over 60 million rural dwellers just as we are by this medium asking the Governors forum not to sabotage the Primary healthcare initiatives of ALGON as that will be tantamount to exposing the lives of the rural dwellers to the consequences of the COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA. Again, we ask Mr. President to proceed with the revolutionary programme of conceding constitutional autonomy to LGAs as that is the SUREST WAY TO GUARANTEE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILLIONS OF THE RURAL DWELLERS AND WILL OPEN UP THE RURAL COMMUNITIES TO AGGRESSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE AND DEVELOPMENT. WE WILL BE WRITING TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNORS FORUM TO HIGHLIGHT THE ESSENCE OF PERMITTING THE FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RURAL HEALTHCARE PROJECTS AS THIS WILL FURTHER BOOST THE RATING OF THE GOVERNORS AS TRUE DEMOCRATS.

BELOW ARE EXCERPTS OF THE MATTER BEING DISCUSSED FOR YOUR PERUSAL:

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY HOLDEN AT ABUJA ON FRIDAY THE 6TH DAY OF MARCH 2020 BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP: HON JUSTICE O. A. ADENYI SITTING AT COURT NO 14 APO –ABUJA

SUIT NO: FCT /HC/CV/ 753 2017

BETWEEN

ATHAN NIGERIA LIMITED… …. ….. …… ….. ….. … ….. …… … CLAIMANT

AND

1. THE HON. ATTONERY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND MINSTER OF JUSTICE

2. HON. MINISTER OF FINANCE

3. THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION

4. ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

JUDGEMENT

The claimant, at all times material to this suit, carries on business of building and engineering construction and related activities throughout the federal Republic of Nigeria. Upon securing approval of the federal executive Council of Nigeria, the 4th Defendant, sometime in February,2007, contracted the Claimant for the construction and equipment of one comprehensive healthcare Centre in each of the 774 Local Government Councils of Nigeria on contract-finance basis with a repayment on long term basis and be deducted at source from the Local Government Accounts with the 2nd Defendant for a period of ten months at the cost of N46,106,692.05 (Forty-Six Million, One Hundred and Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety-Two Naira, Five Kobo) only .

It is the case of the Claimant that in the course of executing the Contract, the National Economic Council, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President of Nigeria at the material time, sometime in December, 2007, unilaterally cancelled the contract between the 4th Defendant and the Claimant; a decision which the Claimant successfully challenged at the Federal High Court, which after three years of litigation, purportedly declared the action of the Federal Government as unconstitutional null and void.

The Claimant further contends that due to lag of time and other economic variables, the contract had to be re-evaluated twice and the final cost of completion, after the input of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was sought and obtained by the 4th Defendant, was approved by the 4th Defendant, as at September, 2017, as the sum N 61,552,350,716.16 (Sixty-One Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty-two Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixteen Naira, Sixteen Kobo only, which was communicated to the 2nd Defendant to be paid to the Claimant to enable her complete the project.

The Claimant further contends that the 2nd Defendant failed and refused to release the variation sum to the Claimant for continuation of the project as directed by the 4th Defendant as a result of which the Claimant has been caused untold hardship, financial embarrassment and humiliation, especially as many of her sub-contractors and other stakeholders were of the believe that the Claimant had been paid but refused to pay them.

Being aggrieved by the continued refusal of the Defendants to perform their obligations under the said contract, the Claimant the instituted the instant action vide. Writ of summons and Statement of Claim filed in this Court on 30/01/2017; and by Amended Writ of summons and Statement of Claim. Filed on 19 /01/ 2018, pursuant to order of this Court made on 16/01/2018, claimed against the Defendants, jointly and severally, the reliefs set out as follows:

1. A Declaration that the Plaintiff is entitled to the sum ofN61.552.350,7 16.17 (Sixty One Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty Two Million. Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixteen Naira Seventeen Kobo) being the accrued and approved variation which had been communicated to the 1st to 3rd Defendants by the 4th Defendant, the same having arisen from the contract between the Plaintiff and the 4th Defendant for the construction and equipment of Comprehensive Health Centre in 774 Local Government Councils in the Federation, in view of the letter of the 4th Defendant dated 8th September, 2017.

2. A Declaration that it is unlawful for the, 1st 2nd and 3rd Defendants to withhold and or refuse to pay and release to the Plaintiff the sum of N61, 552,350.7 16.17 (Sixty One Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty Two Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixteen Naira Seventeen Kobo) being the accrued and approved variation that arose from the contract between the Plaintiff and the 4th Defendant for the construction and equipment of Comprehensive Health Centres in 774 Local Government Councils in the Federation in view of the 4th Defendant letter dated 8th September, 2017.

3. A Declaration that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants acted in excess of their powers and in breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended), when they withheld and refused to pay the sum of N61,552,350,716.17 (Sixty One Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty Two Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixteen Naira Seventeen Kobo) due and payable to the Plaintiff, the 4th Defendant having approved the variation and communicated same in its letter dated 8th September, 2017.

The Defendants respectively joined issues with the Claimant. The 1st Defendant’s Statement of Defense was filed on 09/05/2019. The 2nd Defendant’s Statement of Defence was filed on 19/04/2017. The 4th Defendant’s operative Statement of Defence was filed on 27 /03/2018

On his part, the 3rd Defendant failed to file a defence to the action even though the records of Court bear out that he was represented by learned counsel at various times in the course of proceedings in the suit. it is pertinent to place on record that parties explored possibilities of resolving the issues in dispute in this suit amicably amongst themselves; but that the settlement efforts failed the Claimant was unable to get all the Defendants to endorse the Terms of Settlement drawn up. The matter nevertheless proceeded to trial. For the Claimant, one Chief Athan Nneji Achonu, her Chairman/CEO, testified. He adopted his Statement on Oath and further tendered nine (9) sets of documents in evidence as exhibit in support of the case of the Claimant.

Claimant, as required by law, is that facts constituting the cause of action, it there are any against him, are deemed as admitted and therefore established against the 3rd Defendant. So hold. See Futmina & Or Vs Olutayo [2017) LPELR-43827(SC).

As it stands therefore, the suit shall be determined on the basis of the admissible and credible evidence led on record by the Claimant in support of her case; the evidence led in rebuttal by the 4th Defendant to support her defence; and the applicable law thereto.

RESOLUTION OF ISSUES ISSUE ONE: IS THERE A VALID AND ENFORCEABLE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE CLAIMANT AND THE 4TH DEFENDANT?

This issue, ordinary ought to have been deemed as anon issue, considering the state of uncontroverted evidence on record. CW1 tendered in evidence as Exhibit C1, which is contract agreement made between 4th Defendant, Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and he Claimant, Mathan Nigeria Limited on 6th February, 2005. By the said contract agreement, the 4th Defendant, which is a registered association of the entire constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Councils Nigeria, engaged the Claimant to build a heath care centre in each of the said 774 LGAs, in accordance with the Specifications approved by the Federal Ministry of health Limited centres and thereafter to equip the health care centres equipment to be vetted by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. The Federal Ministry Housing is also, by the contract, agreement, required to provide the bill of quantities for the works to be undertaken by the Claimant.

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