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Jonathan's Special Adviser Sues Benue State Government

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Dr. Doyin Okupe, recently appointed Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs has dragged the Benue State Government to court, claiming damages amounting to a whopping N358,762,934.90 for breach of contract, among

other sundry claims.
Warning that they are not politicians and are neither seeking votes nor public applause, Festus Keyamo Esq. lawyer for the plaintiff, in a strongly worded statement, advised the public against 'making disparaging comments about our client that are not in tandem with the facts… because   we have been instructed to, without hesitation, drag anybody to court for defamation of character.'

The substantive matter in question is a contract dispute involving a company, Value Trust Investment Ltd, in which Dr. Okupe had interests. The Plaintiff avers that in 2004, the Benue State Government, headed by George Akume, the former Governor of Benue State, awarded a contract to the Plaintiff for the construction of rural roads using a product known as Romix Soil Stabilizer. The contract was duly executed in favor of the Plaintiff. By the terms of the said agreement, the Defendants were under an obligation to handover the projects sites to the Plaintiff within fifteen days after the execution of the contract. That was to be on or before the 6th of May, 2004.

The Plaintiff, according to the suit was only handed the first set of sites in August, 2004; over four months from the date the contract agreement was signed. The Plaintiff averred that in line with the terms of the agreement, it was paid 30% of the contract sum as mobilization fee, which it used to procure equipment, materials and chemicals meant for the execution of the contract. The Plaintiff also averred that the sub-contractor who the plaintiff engaged to do bush clearing and other preparatory work was appointed by the Defendants. But all the sub-contractors failed to meet with the terms of the agreements executed between the Plaintiff and the sub-contractors, thereby causing delay in the execution of the contract.

To which end, the Plaintiff requested that the Defendant allow him appoint additional sub-contractors; a request the defendant rejected for yet to be explained reasons. Hence plaintiff could not execute the contract within the stipulated time because the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants failed to carry out and execute the jobs sub-contracted to them after collecting money from the Plaintiff. Faced with the prospects of not completing the contract within the stipulated deadline, the two sides agreed to extend the deadline.

But sequel to that extension, the Plaintiff requested for a review of the contract because it had become virtually impossible to execute the contract at the initial cost of N2, 303,561,032.50. The Plaintiff then applied to the Defendant for a review of the contract sum as agreed in Clause 73 & 74 in the Agreement to N6, 634, 033,255.50, justifying the review on increases in the prices of raw materials, wages and other ancillary costs.

The Plaintiff further averred that in line with the terms of the agreement, once the Plaintiff executed the contract to a reasonable stage, it would prepare an Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) for that stage, the work will be measured, approved and payment made for that stage as contained in the Plaintiff's IPC.

The Plaintiff admitted that interim payment certificates for three stages of the contract and payments were made to the Plaintiff by the Defendants for the work done.

Trouble started when the Plaintiff presented the fourth certificate, which the Defendants refused to honor.   The fourth certificate was in the sum of N358, 762,934.90 and this caused the Plaintiff to stop work. To further compound the problem, the Plaintiff said he started experiencing hostilities from the Defendants immediately the then Governor of Benue State left office and his successor, Gabriel Suswan took over as the Governor of Benue State. Despite numerous entreaties by the plaintiff, the defendant has refused to seek an amicable solution to the dispute, leaving the plaintiff with no option than to seek redress from the courts.

In the originating summons filed at the Makurdi Division of the Benue State high Court on Friday, September 7, the Plaintiff who is also suing the Benue State Attorney General as second defendant is praying the court to amongst others; compel the defendants to pay to the plaintiff the sum of N358, 762,934.90 being amount for work already completed by the Plaintiff pursuant to the contract entered between the Plaintiff and the 1st Defendant on the 21st of April, 2004.

The plaintiff is also seeking interest on the sum of N358, 762,934.90 at the rate of 21% from 18th of June, 2007 when the amount became due to the Plaintiff till judgment is entered and subsequently at the rate of 10% till the sum is finally liquidated. The Plaintiff also wants the court to issue a declaration that the Plaintiff was entitled to a review of the contract from N2, 303,561,032 to N6, 634, 033,255. Alternatively the Plaintiff is seeking general damages to the tune of N5, 000,000,000.00 (Five Billion Naira) against the Defendants for breach of contract. No date has been fixed for hearing on the substantive matter of the case.