Commercial Law

Businessman, hotelier battle in court over breach of contract

In compliance with the order of a Lagos State High Court, a Lagos businessman, Saka Babatunde in Company of a Senior Sheriff of the court, have inspected the premises of two Hotels in Lagos, De Ritz Hotel and Primal Hotel & resort services for the purposes of identifying goods purchased by the businessman during the leases granted to him before his leases were illegally terminated.
Others premises ordered to be inspected by the court are the places of Business of Kolawole Bankole and Saheed Ayinla Ogundare, and Paramount Luxurious services apartment located at 8 Ajasa street GRA Ikeja  where such goods are kept or controlled, particularly four Generating sets.
The Sheriff of the court has already filed the inventory of the goods discovered before the court which includes, 3 Generating sets, 2dry washing machines and 1 Thermocool deep freezer.
The order of the court was as a result of an application filed and argued before the court by a Lagos Lawyer, Barrister Ola Wilson, urging the court to permit the claimant and senior Sherriff of the court  to inspect the premises of the defendants and take inventory of the Generating sets and goods claimed to have been purchased by the claimant. if not, he argued, the chances of recovering the items such as Generators and others goods are very uncertain. On the other hand, if they are to wait till final determination of the suit filed by the businessman, the wear and tear that the Generators might have undergone may render them worthless.
The defendants, while denying all the claims filed before the court also counter claimed, asking for special damages of N11,405,053.00. The defendant’s lawyer, Chief Richard Oma Ahonaruogho SAN averred that the claimants never purchased any of the items.
He stated that the damages is for damaged furniture and repair of the damaged generators and the sum of N7,500,000 as solicitors fees.
The legal battle is as a result of a breach of contract suit instituted by a Lagos business man Babatunde Saka and his company Ofly Global Resources Limited, urging the court to compel Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate a staff of Lagos  University Teaching Hospital LUTH, Saheed Ayinla Ogundare who trades under the name of SEADROF HOTELS &SUITES operating from Block 2, Flat5, LUTH Staff Quarters of the hospital, for alleged diversion of funds of the Teaching hospital.
Joined as co-defendants are Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC, a Lagos business man Kolawole Bankole trading under the name & and style of DE RITZ HOTEL and a limited liability Company, PRIMAL HOTEL AND RESORT SERVICES LIMITED.
According to statement of claim which was accompanied by written statement on oath of the plaintiff filed before the court, he averred that On the 8th of August, 2016 by a contract agreement executed, Kolawole Bankole rented to him, his 15 bedrooms hotel with related facilities known as DE NEST Hotel at 5 M.K.O. Abiola Crescent.
Saka averred further that when he took over the hotel, he incurred expenses to the tune of N3,009,549:70, apart from the deposit that he paid.
He stated further that by another contract executed on 14th July,2017,he entered into another contract with Kolawole Bankole in respect of 35 bedrooms hotel known as Primal Hotel and Resort Services Ltd, located at 46B, Isaac John Street, G.R.A, Ikeja, Lagos.
He stated that he incurred another expenses N8, 811,931.00 at the point of takeover, apart from the payment of deposit.
However, despite two subsisting contracts, he averred that Bankole, allegedly stormed Primal Hotel and resort services and De-Nest Hotel, forcefully tookover the properties and drove the claimants and and staff away from the property. He also allegedly seized all their purchased items without recourse to the provision of the contract that notice be given by either of the parties who desires to terminate the contract. ‘All pleas to release them were to no avail”, stated.
The claimant thereafter on October 24, 2019 petitioned the Assistant Inspector General of Police at the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Alagbon wherein hi complained about the illegal and unlawful seizure of the generators and other items he uses to work in the premises.
He is claiming the  sum of N21,821,540:70
The claimant stated that while relationship between the parties was still cordial, Bankole introduced to him one Saheed Ayinla Ogundare as a customer resource agent. Ogundare used to bring guests from LUTH to lodge at Prima Hotels and Resort. The arrangement was that Ogundare gets commission on the lodgers he brings to the hotel. Such commission was usually paid into his account. Unknown to him, Ogundare is a staff and is still in the employment of LUTH.
To his chagrin, it was the same Ogundare that took over the two hotels after he was unlawfully evicted, operating under the name “SEADROF HOTEL & SUITES, contrary to civil/public service rules.
After the take over, Ogundare paid total sum of N3,851,170 into the account of the Claimants, which was  remitted back to him.
The claimant then perceived that a day may come when auditors will investigate the defendants. “Besides the claimants as Nigerians have a civil duty inform the authority where there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Consequently, the claimants claims against the defendants jointly and severally are as follows:
  • The sum of N15million as general damages and special damages.
  • Declaration that the forceful and wrongful taking over of the Hotels and seizure and continue detention of the claimants items purchased to enhance and improve the management of the two Hotels by Kolawole Bankole without resorting to the provision of the contract is unlawful and illegal
  • Declaration that Saheed Ayinla Ogundare as a public servant in the employment of LUTH to engage in a private business and managing Hotel is unlawful.
  • An Order directing EFCC to investigate the propriety of Saheed Ayinla Ogundare a staff of LUTH operating a business name and style of SEADROF HOTELS AND SUITES while in the employ of the LUTH. The circumstances and reasons for transferring of several money into the claimant’s company account, and later collect them when he has seized to operate or manage the hotel.
The trial judge, Justice Ganiyu Safari   has adjourned till 2nd of March, 2021 for definite hearing.

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