Tuesday, 28 April 2020

C'River Isolation center, Contractor seeks legal action, says life under threat

A bed space at the CRS Isolation Center

Ukorebi Esien | 25th April, 2020

Cross Riverians continue to mount pressure on the Covid-19 Taskforce Team in the state headed by the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Betta Edu, more concerns are rising up even as the contractor who built the property being used as isolation center by the state government has gone to court seeking payment of debt owed him.

Recall that the contractor, Mr James Obi, Managing Director of Obi Achara Nigeria Limited who built the property currently used by the Cross River State government as isolation centre for COVID-19 Coronavirus and other vulnerable diseases at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, had threatened to shut it down over non-payment of sixty-eight million Naira (68,000,000) debt.

The state government denied knowledge claiming they got the property from the  management of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. Meanwhile the Hospital management led by its Chief Medical Director, Prof Ikpeme Ikpeme had earlier reassured that the hospital has not reneged on its promise to offset the debt to the contractor.

His words: "We are not denying that we are owing him ,but we pleaded with him to kindly hand over the place to us ,which he did and we promised to pay him when funds were available.

"We have not reneged on our promise and we dont have time lag as far as the payment is concerned but what we said in the agreement was that ,once funds were available we will pay ,and we have not deviated from that", Ikpeme said.

Latest development has it that the contractor has approached the court in a bid to ensure that he gets his money and gets his suppliers whom he said had been threatening him and his family off his trail. 

Mr. Obi, informed this reporter that his life and that of his immediate family is now in danger owing to the threats by a, supplier he got roofing materia used in the isolation center.

He said, "I got supply of roofing materials including ceiling, wood and nail worth 7.4million naira from Mr Okey Opara in September, 2017 and I made an initial deposit of 1million naira leaving an outstanding of 6.4million .

"But I have been unable to pay him the balance Because I don't have it yet as UCTH management are still owing me hige sum of money over the job even though i have handed over the keys .

" But many of the suppliers apart from the one threatening me believe i must have been paid before i handed over the keys to UCTH ,but it is not true. I am appealing to Minister of health, President Buhari to come to my aid, because i have not been paid till now .

"It is well over three months i handed over the keys under the circumstances i did not because I don't know what to do ,but for the interest of Nigerians i gave them the keys peaceful,but till date i have nit been approached officially by the management of UCTH," he bemoaned.

When contacted, Mba Ukweni, SAN, and counsel to Mr James Obi said they had written to the Commissioner of Police, Cross River state :"Report of incessant Threat to my Life &That of My Family by One Walter Okey Opera".

"The roofing material supplied by Mr Walter Opara to our client was for the roofing of Calabar Isolation Centre at the UCTH. The hospital  is yet to make payment in respect of the said contract.

"Our client has however gone out if his way to make the initial payment and is still making concerted efforts to pay up the total sum without necessarily waiting for UCTH.

"Our client has however explained the situation to Mr Walter Okey for patience. In Spite of this, Mr Walter Okey has been threatening his life. Our client is highly apprehensive and indeed highly threatened and afraid for his life and that of his immediate family.