From Judex Okoro, Calabar
A High Court siting in Calabar has rescheduled ruling on a motion concerning the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, isolation centre contract valued at N68m.
The management of UCTH and the contractor of the Isolation Centre have been engaged in a legal battle in a Suit No.HC/316/2020 since last year.
Litigations arose following a contract dispute between Obi Achara (the claimant) and the management of UCTH (respondents) over the construction of a COVID-19 Isolation Centre at the Teaching Hospital.
The contract for the construction of an Isolation Centre in the institution was completed and handed over to the hospital just as the later had made some payments in that regard before the settlement process broke down.
At the commencement of the case, the claimant had presented 16 exhibits against the defendants to back up his claims before closing its case while the defendant applied for a motion to strike out the case.
The court was scheduled to hear the application before the defendant applied for an adjournment of the matter, maintaining that it had a case out of jurisdiction to determine.
Presiding Judge Angela Obi adjourned the matter to July 12, 2021 so as to consider the motion to strike out the case.
Speaking after the adjournment, Eta Akpama of Mba Ukweni Chambers and counsel for the claimant said they have filed their response to the motion but it has not been adopted due to the absence of the defendant.
He said, “They filed a motion to strike out the matter and so the matter was adjourned for ruling but today they have written to the court to adjourn the matter. We have filled our response though it could not be heard today because they claim they have a matter outside jurisdiction.
“I would not want to think that there absence in court today is a delay tactics by the defendant but that they have given them the benefit of doubt,” he said.
The management of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital UCTH had in November 2016 awarded a N68m contract to a contractor Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd and Anor, for construction of a centre for Emerging Pathogen Research and Management.
However, the management of the hospital failed to meet their own obligation in terms of payment even as the contract was substantially executed with only N7 million paid by the hospital management out of the contract sum.
At the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the UCTH requested that the centre be hand over them and this was done because of the strategic importance of the centre in the war against the pandemic.