After several years the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex (LITFC) concession arrangement yielded no viable results, a management board appointed by the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government officially takes over to kick start a new era in the popular commercial hub.
The Executive Director of LITFC,Mrs Lucy Ajayi signalled the commencement of the process at a Press Conference held at the administration building of the complex.
She noted that contrary to the widely circulated spurious claim of the now revoked contract with the concessionaire, Aulic Nigeria Limited, it was due to breach of agreement,one of which was the non remittance of lease fees to the Federal Government totalling over 6 billion naira(2008-2017).
Lucy added that all those traders operating on the fringes of the Trade Complex will be relocated inside the complex, to restore sanity and adequately address deplorable state of the facility.
“I have been to so many places for take over and they cooperated so well but here it is another kettle of fish,the place is being sealed now,we drove them the police have taken over,you can’t enter here in the first place.
According to her the concessionaire Aulic Nigeria Limited,led by Mr. Nicholas Eze breached contractual agreements.
“He breached in all the contracts that we had with him,from 2007,he is owing over to 6.5billion naira and he has not paid a dime to the agency since he took over in 2008,look at the place it is deserted this is not how an international trade fair looks like.
“He was on a thirty years lease and was to pay 40billion and it started with a 100 million, after three years it got up to 1 billion annually as he was to be paying per annum,they did it very small thinking you just took over and you are not expected to make profit in the next second,third year but we assumed by the fifth or sixth year you should have made your money,so for the past three years it moved up to 1 billion he has paid nothing, I learnt that most of the land he was supposed to develop are being sold. So people will build whatever they want and they have no building approval.
Lucy noted further that initially, “he thought BPE, concessioned all the complex to him for that 40billion, so he said he didn’t know he was not going to inherit the stakeholders,but they already have agreement before he came,okay when he was dragging that, NCP in 2013 said okay if there is this problem, let’s excise those stakeholders areas from other areas,then we will re-compute what you will be paying, since you assumed possession that was it he agreed and signed an MOU, only for him when they say they were going to bring in auditors,to come and ascertain the actual amount he is paying, he now went to court for an injunction to stop the process in 2013.
She alluded,“ I actually saw an order to the effect that we maintain status quo till 2014 December,so we decided to go back to the drawing board while the injunction subsists, because he refused and was hanging on that injunction till I came in here so we can’t continue,he is making money,he threw us out of the admin block,took over the gate.
“So when I came in I tried getting in touch with him but I couldn’t,but he got a letter,I am sure it was when he saw that I was making some moves,as I have a four year mandate to revamp this place and he wasn’t coming up with a reconciliatory move that informed the letter.
I said okay let’s reconcile, because you were dealing with my predecessors not me,maybe they were averse to reconciliation which I prefer. Later, he wrote a letter congratulating me when he heard that NCP was inaugurated. This letter came after about three months, when I had made so many moves for us to sit and talk. I’m not against reconciliation bearing in mind the amount he owed. He owed N5.2 billion with interest which if you don’t pay adds up and it rose to N6.5 billion. I have been operating from Abuja for the past eight months. He didn’t allow me gain access to my block here the past eight months.
Speaking on the substantive injunction Lucy noted that, “there is no injunction to repossessing the land,there is an injunction saying I cannot have the facility audit,there is no injunction telling me not to possess my property as the landlord,so having taken possession let him take me to the court if he thinks he is right and aside that the court injunction is on jurisdiction,instead of going to court of arbitration,he went to Federal High court.
“The injunction he got made us decide let’s maintain status quo, not to take the facility audit,it is not saying don’t possess,if any in that wise I will know I am flouting it, I have not flouted any,since we have not done the facility audit.
“My mandate is to make it look like an international trade fair,if the government can re-concession it fine,this is not how an international trade fair should look like and government was not ready to drop any money for the roads.
“So I want tenants here,the traders with the stakeholders,you need a parley,meetings to address issues here because they’ve lived in bondage for many years so you don’t bring up a method or system on them,let’s know what their problem is,address it and we can move forward. NCP decided on immediate cancellation of contract,with immediate re-concession within six months, so it is not within me to say.
She noted further the earlier concession arrangement was flawed earlier thus necessitating another.
“I am here now the process must be followed,it must be transparent and fair and let,NCP is involved they are in charge of concessioning,they await BPE’s directive to that effect.
“I am even here to show them what to concession because that is the mistake,I think the management back then want it that way because they didn’t want the concessioning . So BPE just did what they want but right now I am working with BPE we are on the same page,so if they come in here I will tell them this is it and the thing will go well,I think it started on a faulty ground and we have another madam due process here”.