Alleged N7m debt: Bizman drags Protea Hotel, Kuramo Waters to court over alleged breach of contract
Failure by Princely Court Limited, owners of Protea Hotel Kuramo Waters, to settle an alleged debt of N7, 080, 000, has landed the management of the hotel before Magistrate Abimbola Awogboro of an Igbosere Magistrate Court 2, in Lagos.
The court action was instituted against the hotel by one Paul Ojoje of Rejoice Hope Company, on the allegation that the hotel management failed to pay for 60, 000 litres of diesel supplied it in 2011.
The businessman is alleging that it supplied the diesel to the company on three occasions: June 6, 2011, June 16, 2011 and July 11, 2011. It however alleged that several attempts to make the company pay for the fuel have been unsuccessful.
Trial in the matter has been fixed for January 20, 2017.
“The receipt of the supply of the said oil was duly acknowledged on behalf of the defendant. The claimant had severally demanded for payment, orally and in writing from the defendant but to no avail. As a result of the defendant’s refusal and failure to pay for the petroleum product, the claimant has been unable to put the funds he borrowed from bank to productive use and thereby suffered damage through bank charges, loss of business and cost of instituting the court action, “the claimant stated in its statement of claim.
In one of the letters dated November 11, 2011 written by counsel to the claimant, Maxwell Onogu, on behalf of the claimant to the defendant requesting for the payment of the amount, it stated that ‘ the claimant had at several times demanded for the payment of the sum, but your hotel has persistently refused him payment.’
“Our client has been made to suffer enormous damage on account of your hotel’s refusal to pay, especially as he obtained bank facility to finance the procurement of the petroleum supplied to your hotel. We have our client’s instruction to make final demand for the payment of the said amount within seven days and to take legal steps to recover the money should it remain unpaid within seven days,” the letter stated.
The claimant is therefore demanding an order of the court that the defendant should pay the sum of ‘N7, 080,000, N900, 000 as damages as well interest in the said sums at the rate of 25% per annum from July 11, 2011 until sooner payment or judgement and thereafter at the rate of 7.5% per annum on the judgement debt until judgment sum is liquidated.’
In its response, the hotel admitted that it entered into a contractual agreement with the claimant to supply the petroleum product. It however accused the claimant of perpetrating alleged fraud in the course of supplying the product to the company.
“Sometimes in June 2011, the board of directors of the defendant’s company concluded an investigation over the claimant’s supply of diesel and it was discovered that the defendant was being under-supplied by the claimant. The investigation revealed that the claimant under-supplied and over-invoiced the same. The under-supply of diesel by the claimant caused the defendant to pay the claimant for diesel they never supplied, ‘its statement of defence stated.
It added: “The investigation further revealed that this fraudulent practice by the claimant had been going on for several months, thereby causing the defendant to lose between N500, 000 to N750, 000 every month.
The defendant further stated that some staff of the hotel allegedly involved in the alleged fraud, has also been dismissed.
It accused the claimant of attempting ‘to cause mischief to the defendant’ adding that it does not ‘owe the claimant any sum under the supply of diesel agreement.’ It also described the court action as ‘spurious and frivolous with the aim of further ripping the defendant off the colossal sum which the claimant has been converting from the defendant,’ and urged the court to dismiss the suit.