Salt Lake, Govt Tango in Court…over N361m Hotel Accommodation Debt

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The Salt Lake Hotels Limited at number 35 Offia Nwali street Azuiyiokwu Abakaliki has dragged Ebonyi State Government to a high court sitting in Abakaliki presided over by Justice Elvis Ngene for alleged unpaid outstanding debt balance  of N361,718,875.00 being  accommodation bill from 7th February, 2011 to 30th September, 2014.

In the matter numbered HAB/15/2015, the plaintiff dragged the state government under administration of Chief Martin Elechi to court for ordering for reservations of 22 rooms through its Directorate of Attitudinal change for host of Nigerian Hollywood actors in the said hotel during the state  government program without due payment till date despite all reminding letters.

The plaintiff is seeking the following 3 orders from the court: an order awarding the sum of  N361,718,875.00, being outstanding balance owed the plaintiff as accommodation bill for period of 7th February, 2011 to 30th September, 2014 for defendant’s guests made up of over 100 artistes, technical crew and expatriates invited to handle a film documentary project on 39 Years Road to Ebonyi State Creation.

The hotel also requested for an order directing the defendant to indemnify the plaintiff against all losses and the causes arising from the plaintiff’s failure to pay tax to the appropriate tax agent as may be ordered by Tax Tribunal Enugu in tax appeal number TAT/SEX/004/2014.

It as well, wanted an order awarding the sum of N150 million naira against the defendant as general damages.

When Senator Ogba was asked by the court to present the Original Certificate Of Incorporation of his hotel, he replied that it was destroyed by flood which ravaged the Salt Lake Hotel, but the court ordered him to produce a certified true copy of the Certificate of Incorporation.

Senator Ogba further stated that he pleaded with the government to pay him whilst his son was sick to the point of death but they declined until he lost his son and that part payment of N20m was made to him which he said was from different local government without receipt attached to it.

On her part, the defendant claims and avers that reservations of rooms in the plaintiff does not amount to the sum quoted except the sum of N20,000,000.00, that is exactly N16,603, 250.00 between 7th February and 7th March, 2011 and N3,396,750.00 for 8 March to 15th March, 2011 agreed by the parties and was paid on 10th June 2011.

The defendant also insisted that the alleged loss suffered by the plaintiff in its business resulting to its inability to pay taxes cannot be linked to a non existing indebtedness, among other claims.

However, on the 2nd day of December, 2019, the Senator representing Ebonyi Central Senatorial zone, Senator Obinna Ogba (Akukananwa) who is also the Chief Executive of the hotel testified in the matter and was cross examined by the Solicitor General of Civil Litigation Ebonyi State Ministry of Justice Abakaliki, Barr Paul M. Awada.

The matter was adjourned to 14th day of January 2020 for continuation of hearing

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