COVID-19 Isolation Center: Confusion as UCTH applies to strike out suit over N68m contract debt

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The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital has asked a Calabar high court to strike out the case instituted against it by a contractor, Obi Achara Nigeria Limited over unpaid debt in the tune of 68 million being the contract sum for the construction of an isolation Centre fir the health institution NEGROIDHAVEN can report authoritatively.

However , Counsel to Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd, Eta Akpama, described the said application as a “delay” tactics adding that the lawyers representing the Hospital have not filed any defense against their claim for payment of N68 million naira as contract sum for the isolation centre till date

The application was made as part of the on-going litigation between the Management Board of the Hospital and the contractor (Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd) in Suit No. HC/316/2020.

Both parties fell out over the contract for the construction of an Isolation Centre in the institution which was completed and handed over to the hospital in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall that they had earlier admitted 17 exhibits against the hospital and commenced a pre-trial but the defendant has applied for the striking out of the case alleging an abuse of court processes.

The hospital, represented by three associates while defending the application said the case is similar to another one which was not properly terminated and it amounts to an abuse of court processes adding that the other matter must be properly closed.

One of the Counsel to UCTH, Dafe Diegbe said :”The suit you are seeing in this court is similar to another filled in another court.

“They did not properly terminate the suit in the other court so by not doing that the one filled here is an abuse of court processes”, he said.

Also speaking, another lawyer for the hospital Volunteer Itam said the defendant had made part payment to the claimant for the Isolation Centre and the sum paid is not in dispute.

However, counsel for the claimant Eta Akpama said they were only served the motion the previous day by the close of work.

He said it is still within their time to respond and they intend to reply to the defendant’s application to strike out the matter.

He denied knowledge of any similar court case elsewhere and emphasized that the defendants are yet to file their statement of defence to their claim to date describing the application is a “delay” tactics.

“They are alleging that the matter is an abuse of court processes because there is a similar matter somewhere but we are not aware of it.

“This is a contract for a building, they have paid some money and this building has been handed over to you.

“You have to understand that they are yet to file their statement of defence so as far as we are concerned they have no defence against our claim to date and we see this as a delay tactics”, he said.

The presiding judge Justice Angela Obi adjourned the case to the 22nd of April 2021 for the parties to come for argument of the motion to strike out the case.

She advised parties to iron out grey areas before the next date of court in the hope of another negotiation for an out of court settlement.