Stakeholders in the concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, along Lagos/Badagry Expressway, have kicked against the Federal Government’s decision to terminate the agreement.
On Monday, September 4, 2017, the National Council on Privatisation , chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, approved the immediate revocation of the concession to Aulic Nigeria Limited.
Alice won the trade fair complex concession in 2008.
Opinions are divided about the revocation because traders who the shopping malls/plazas comprising Balogun Business Association (BBA), ASPAMDA and APT are somewhat happy that the revocation did not affect them while those under the control of Aulic, the concessionaire, are crying foul.
The concessionaire, Aulic, has pointedly accused the federal government of breach of an extant court order on the matter.
Speaking on behalf of Aulic Nigeria Limited, its legal counsel, Mr. Dan Udeh said the revocation order was a farce as the matter was still pending before the court. “We will do everything within the law to ensure that we get justice since the matter is still in court. We want to believe that the federal government acted out of ignorance and this is what we will prove before the court,” he said.
“The purported cancellation of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex Concession cannot be true and valid. There is a subsisting preservative order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/382/13 of November 18, 2014 directing the NCP, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Lagos International Trade Fair Complex Management Board, Attorney-General of the Federation and others to maintain status quo.
The matter is still pending before the court.”
He stated that by that action, the federal government has fired the first bullet of a pending war against Ndigbo, and added that the concessionaire would be taking the matter to the International Court of Commerce, where he hopes to get justice.
National president of Igbo Youth Congress, Mr. Jerry Ugwu, has said that the revocation of the Lagos Trade Fair Complex concession to Aulic Nigeria Limited by the federal government amounts to disobedience of court order.
Also speaking on the matter, Ezeigbo of Ojo, Pat Eneh, said it was another move to completely annihilate the Igbo.
“We will not fold our hands and allow this kind of thing to happen because the federal government is aware that the case is in court. There is a substantive order in court and government cannot say it was not aware of it. They acted in ignorance and nobody is above the law. I know this it is happening because the concessionaire is an Igbo man.
“This is another strategy to sabotage and annihilate the Igbo. They said we can’t have Biafra and now, they want to destroy our means of livelihood.”
On his part, Chairman of BBA Board of Trustees, Trade Fair Complex, Okey Ezeibe, said the revocation did not affect traders in Balogun and the order affected only the areas that belong to the Aulic Nigeria Limited.
Speaking further, he maintained that it was necessary to state the fact immediately, to avoid undue sympathy, intimidation or panic by their members.
Asked whether this is not a subtle move by the federal government to take over the entire place, he replied: “It is not possible. We got there on lease, ahead of Aulic, and, we pay our dues regularly, in advance.
“The federal government cannot revoke our portion since we have not breached the agreement and understanding.”
In his contribution, President of BBA Shopping Mall at the Trade Fair, Alex Obi-Odunukwe admonished members of the mall to “be calm” and go about their normal business “without any fear”. Obi-Odunukwe added that they enjoy mutual relationship with the federal government and Trade Fair Management Board.
In the same vein, President of Association of Progressive Traders (APT), Dr. Jude Ringo Okeke said the revocation order did not affect them as they were not in breach of any agreement with the federal government.
Efforts to get the opinion of the President of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPAMDA), Mr. Ofokansi were unsuccessful as he did not pick his calls.