June 21, 2024

Businessman sues govt, firm over consultancy fees short change

tate High Court, in the Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area

An Akwa Ibom State-based businessman, Mr Ubokutom Nyah has sued the state government and Landsea Construction and Engineering Limited before State High Court, in the Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area over their alleged refusal to pay N10,279,391 million, being his consultancy fees short change.

In the suit marked HT/2/2023, the State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, and Landsea Construction and Engineering Limited, were joined as first and second defendants/respondents, respectively.

Counsel to the applicant, Andem Andem, in a motion on notice filed on 7th March 2023 prayed the court for an order compelling the 2nd defendant to pay the applicant the sum of N10.279,391 million only, which they had admitted in his letter dated April 27, 2021.

He also prayed the court for an Order compelling the first defendant to cause the 2nd defendant to pay his client the admitted sum.

In an affidavit in support of the motion, the applicant, Arc Nyah, doing business under the name ‘Otto Trinity Studios, noted that the Ist defendant/Respondent had in March 2014 through a letter from Commissioner for Special Duties appointed him as a resident consultant to render architectural consultancy services to the Hotel complex then under construction at Ikot Ekpene, which he accepted.

“I state that upon my successful completion of service to the Ist Defendant/ Respondent, I submitted my bill/invoice in the sum of N1, 025, 838, 385.96 (One billion, twenty-five million, Eight hundred and thirty -eight thousand, three hundred and eighty -five Naira, ninety-six kobo only, via a letter dated 18th January 2016.

“I know that the Ist Respondent in reaction to my bill/invoice for payment of professional fees dated 18th January 2016, unilaterally introduced the 2nd Respondent, into the contract to handle payment of professional fees due to me for unknown reasons.

“I protested against the forceful injection of the 2nd Respondent into my bilateral contract with the 1st Respondent and the consequential financial shortchange resulting from this strange procedure.

“I state that I carefully audited all payments made to me by the 2nd defendant/respondent and discovered the following short-payments which cumulatively resulted in the shortchange of N42, 083, 853.37 (Forty-two million, Eight-three thousand, Eight hundred and fifty -three Naira, thirty-seven Kobo) only.

“I state further that I demanded the refund of the aforestated short-payments from the Ist Defendant/Respondent via my letter dated 22nd March 2021. I also know that the Ist Defendant by their letter dated April 1, 2021, forwarded my protest letter to the 2nd defendant/Respondent for reaction.

“But the 2nd Defendant/Respondent by their letter dated 27th, April 2021, responded to Ist Defendant/Respondent and admitted that they actually short-changed me to the tune of Ten million, Two hundred and seventy-nine thousand, three hundred and Ninety-one Naira, thirty-one Kobo (N10, 279, 391.31) only.

“That on January 10, 2023, I wrote a letter to Ist Respondent herein and demanded that they prevail on 2nd Respondent who is their agent to pay me the admitted sum but they refused.

“That except this honourable court orders the Defendants/Respondents to pay me this admitted sum, they will continue in their intransigence.”

Meanwhile, Landsea Construction & Engineering Ltd in a letter addressed to Commissioner Ministry of Special Duties & Aviation Akwa Ibom State, via the Permanent Secretary, and dated April 27, 2021, admitted net short change to Otto Trinity Studios to the tune of N10.279, 391million only.

A copy of the letter which was signed by the Project Consultant Manager, Engr. Oliver Ebong and made available to newsmen in Uyo reads in part: “I take responsibility for the sharing mistakes and will affect redress to Otto Trinity willingly. At no point was there any intention to ‘defraud’ any consultant, definitely not myself Landsea that also got short-changed.

“In reaction to your letter on issues raised in Otto Trinity’s consultancy fees short change, I have checked all the payments received from inception, painstakingly computed/shared same and compared such to the initial sharing with my colleagues and admit to net short changes to Otto Trinity and Landsea, but net overpayments to Dranibs.

“However, the shortchange to Otto Trinity is N10, 279,391.31only not what he claimed for reasons provided above. I reiterate my readiness to make good this short change as soon as you conclude your mediation.”

The court fixed, Tuesday, April 11 for a hearing on the matter.

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