Court Orders LUTH Staff To Release Seized Items To Lagos Business Man

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A Lagos High Court has ordered a staff of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH,  Saheed Ayinla Ogundare and his company Seadrof Hotels & Suites and a businessman, Kolawole Bankole, and his company, De Ritz Hotel, to release from their possession the under listed items  to a Lagos business man, Babatunde Saka, and his company, OFY Global Resourses LTD.

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The items are 1 unit of Marapco 250 sound proof power generator, 1 Haier Thermocool Deep Freezer, 1 Unit of Jubaili Bros Generator 250 KVA, 1 Unit of Marapco 100 KVA sound proof Generator, 1 unit LG Sensor Dry 9 kg washing machine and 1 unit LG Windject Dry washing machine which were stated in the inventory of goods discovered on the 8th of January 2021 by the bailiff at the execution of the court’s order in the  places controlled by the defendants.

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The presiding judge, Ganiyu Ali Safari, said: “I agree with the claimant’s counsel submission that the items to be released would have greatly depreciated in value  or totally destroyed if the court has to wait till the determination of the substantive suit to make a pronouncement on the seized or detained items. I accordingly find merit in the motion and therefore grant same.”

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 The order of the court was as a result of an application filed and argued before the court by Barrister Ola Wilson urging the court to compel the defendants to release the aforementioned items.

In compliance with the earlier order of the  court, the business man Saka Babatunde in company with Senior Sheriff of the court protected by officers of the Nigerian Police Force have inspected the premises of the two Hotels in Lagos – De Ritz Hotel and Primal Hotel & Resort Services for the purposes of identifying goods purchased by the business man during the leases granted to him before his leases were illegally terminated.

 Other premises inspected were the places of business of Kolawole Bankole and Saheed Ayinla Ogundare, and Paramount Luxury service apartment at 8, Ajasa Street, GRA Ikeja where the goods were kept or controlled, particularly the Generating sets.

After the inspection, the Sheriff filed the inventory of the goods discovered before the court which include 3 Generating sets, 2 dry 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 Sheriff 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, otherwise their chances of recovering the Generators and others goods are very uncertain and if they are to wait till final determination of the suit filed by the business man, the wear and tear that the Generators might have undergone may render them worthless.

What led to the current legal hostility was a breach of contract suit instituted by a Lagos business man, Babatunde Saka, and his company, Ofly Global Resources Limited, filed before the Court, urging it to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate a staff of LUTH, Saheed Ayinla Ogundare, who traded under the name and style of Seadrof Hotels & Suites operating from Block 2, Flat 5, LUTH Staff Quarters, for alleged diversion of funds of the Teaching Hospital.

Joined as co-defendants are the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 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 a statement of claim, accompanied by written statement on oath of Babatunde Saka and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister King Ola Wilson, on August 8, 2016 by a contract agreement executed, Kolawole Bankole let his 15 bedroom hotel with related facilities known as DE NEST Hotel at 5 M.K.O. Abiola Crescent, Ikeja to him.

Saka averred further that when he took over the hotel, the expenses he incurred, asides down payment deposit made was N3,009,549:70.

By another contract executed on July 14, 2017, he entered into another contract with Kolawole Bankole in respect of the 35 bedroom hotel Primal Hotel and Resort Services Limited at 46B, Isaac John Street, G.R.A. Ikeja, Lagos.

When he took over the second hotel, the total  expenses he incurred asides the deposit payment was N8,811,931.00.

 However, on two diverse dates, Kolawole Bankole, who is operating in dual capacities was alleged to have stormed Primal Hotel and Resort Services and De-Nest Hotel and forcefully took over the properties and drove the claimants and their staff away from the property and seized all their purchased items engaged in the hotels without recourse to the provision of the contract as per notice to be given by either of the parties who desires to terminate the contract and all pleas to release them were to no avail.

The claimant made complaint about the illegal and unlawful seizure of the generators and other items belonging to them to the Assistant Inspector  General of Police at Nigeria Police Force Criminal investigation Department, Alagbon, Lagos, vide a petition dated 24th October 2019.     He is claiming the  sum of N21,821,540:70

Saka averred further that from introduction given by Kolawole Bankole, Saheed Ayinla Ogundare was thought to be customers resource agents who was bringing the staff of LUTH and her guests to Prima Hotel and Resort for lodging while it was under the claimant’s management and that after lodging, some money would be paid into the claimant’s bank account. Whatever is paid into the claimant’s account in respect of lodging, the actual lodging fees are subtracted and the difference would be remitted to Saheed Ayinla Ogundare as his agency fees/commission, unknowingly as at that time that Saheed Ayinla Ogundare is a staff and still in the employment of LUTH.

 However, after they were illegally and unlawfully evicted from the two hotels, Saheed Ayinla Ogundare took over the management and started to operate same under the name and style of Seadrof Hotel & Suites as against civil/public service rule.

After Primal Hotel and Resort was taken over from the claimants, Ogundare paid a total sum of N3,851,170 into the account of the Claimants, which was later remitted back to him.

What prompted their suspicion about the various money paid into the account of Ofly Global Resources Limited was that Saheed Ayinla Ogundare who was assumed to be customer resources agents took over the operation and management of Primal Hotel and Resort and continued to pay money into the account of the claimants, whereby they used the account of the company to collect total sum of N3,851,170.

The claimant then perceived that a day of reckoning by an auditor may come which may implicate them in the transactions. Besides, the claimants as Nigerians have civil duties to take necessary step to inform the authority where they have 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 take over of the Hotels and seizure and continued 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.

* 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 defendants, while denying all the claims of the claimants filed before the court by their counsel, Chief Richard Oma Ahonaruogho, averred that the claimants never purchased any of the items at all.

Consequently, the Hotels and their proprietors are counter – claiming against the Claimants, Special damages in the sum of N11,405,053,00, being the cost of the purchase of the damaged furniture and repair of the damaged generators and the sum of N7,500,000 as solicitors fees.

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