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SUBJUDICE: Despite Pending Supreme Court Case, Enugu Government To Sell Hotel Presidential At N100M Per Plot.

Peter Mbah.
Governor of Enugu State.

The administration of Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State appears to be headed for a confrontation with the Supreme Court of Nigeria following the process it has allegedly commenced to sell the premises of Hotel Presidential, Enugu to friends and cronies.

The Hotel Presidential, hitherto the most prestigious hospitality facility belonging to the Enugu State Government had become moribund following its mismanagement by the administration of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani.

During the administration of Sullivan Chime, the Hotel was sold to a consortium, a transaction that triggered litigation when the administration of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi attempted to recover and rehabilitate the hotel, which was a legacy inherited from the old Eastern Nigeria government.

Information gathered following a thorough investigation said that the administration of Peter Mbah, through the State Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, had already partitioned the grounds of the hotel into 30 parcels of land measuring 1,000 square metres each.

Sources from the Ministry of Housing revealed that the government is trying to complete the transaction below the radar, apparently because of the pending litigation, and also because of the prime location of the property.

The source said those who have received offers for the land were given just 72 hours within which to make payment, failing which the offer is withdrawn and given to another person.

It was not clear if the Enugu State Government had settled with Primeview Hotels Ltd, the firm that was concessioned the hotel by former Governor Sullivan Chime.

Located at a prime spot in the Independence Layout area of Enugu, Hotel Presidential was one of the legacies uniting the old eastern region of Nigeria. The administration of the old eastern region had built similar hotels in other parts of the region, including Port Harcourt and Owerri.

The one in Port Harcourt is still standing, while the version in Owerri, which is still functional, the Imo State capital, has been renamed Concorde Hotel.

In 2017, Primeview Hotels took the Enugu State Government to court, demanding $1.2 million (at least N1.1 billion by today's street value), following the cancellation of its concession agreement by the government.

A report published by The Guardian on November 17, 2017 stated that Primeview was the concessionaire of the Hotel Presidential by virtue of the joint venture agreement dated September 17, 2013 between Hotel Presidential Limited, E Hospitality Services Limited and Primeview Hotels Ltd as well as Deed of Assignment dated February 6, 2014, between Hotel Presidential Ltd and Primeview Hotels Ltd respectively.

The report in The Guardian continued: “The legal title in the Property is vested in Primeview Hotels Ltd (PHL) for 35 years commencing from October 1, 2013. PHL has been in uninterrupted possession of the property since August 2013 and carried out extensive work both on-site and offsite with a view to redeveloping and transforming the hotel into a world-class hospitality facility.

“The Guardian gathered that a group of armed soldiers, policemen and Civil Defence corps /legionnaires forced their way into the Hotel on Monday, October 30 manhandled the company’s security personnel, and took over the property without a letter of authority or valid court order.

“The Vice Chairman of Primeview the SPV that owns the asset, Chuma Anosike said, “the invaders claimed to have been instructed to take over the Hotel by Mrs. Rita Mbah, the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism who later came to the site in the company of some other persons we learnt were prospective investors.”

“Unfortunately, we have experienced a number of setbacks the latest of which is a pending lawsuit by an entity which claimed to have had a previous interest in the Property.

“To the extent that PHL were joined as co-defendants in the suit together with the Officials of the Enugu State Government, we advised the Government to resolve the matter as the facts relating to the dispute arose prior to our engagement.

“Since 2015, we have met with the Government team including the Governor, his Deputy, members of the State Privatisation Council and the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism and we have kept them apprised of our challenges and suggested ways in which we can move forward.

“At the last of such meetings held in June this year, it was agreed that efforts would be made to reach out to Status Symbol Ltd, the litigant in the aforesaid suit with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution so that we could all move forward without further hindrance.

“PHL has continued to work with its Consultants to fine tune plans for the restoration of the Hotel including making funding arrangements which have altered significantly given the foreign exchange situation and level of inflation in the country.

“We therefore received with great shock and disappointment the government had decided against good reason, common sense, and more importantly in flagrant disregard of the provisions of a legally binding agreement taken matters into her own hands and orchestrated an attempted violent takeover of the Hotel from PHL.”

“According to Anosike, since taking possession of the property, Primeview has spent over $1.2 million to conduct of geological survey; topographical survey; structural integrity test on the building; environmental impact assessment; complete strip out of pipes, and wire in the entire building and complete water proofing and refurbishment of roof.”

The administration of Governor Peter Mbah had been enmeshed in a series of controversial land disputes since its inauguration on May 29, 2023. A few months ago, the government was mentioned as instigator after a hotel building belonging to a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration, Chief Okey Ezeugwu, was demolished at the Independence Layout of the capital. 


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