By Ike Uchechukwu
A High court sitting in Calabar has commenced the pre-trial in the N68m contract debt on the construction of an isolation centre instituted against University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH management by a Contractor, Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd.
The Court in suit No: HC/316/2020 also admitted 17 exhibits against the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital as their counsel failed to make an appearance but the Principal legal officer of the UCTH, Umoh Edem Efa was asked to ensure that their counsel was present on the next adjourned date.
The suit emanated from the contract for construction of an Isolation Centre in the institution which was carried out by the contractors but payments have been delayed.
Vanguard learned that the payment has lingered since the centre was handed over to the management of UCTH in good faith by the Managing Director of the Obi Achara Nigeria Ltd, Mr James Obi Achara in the heat of COVID-19 outbreak.
The court had earlier stood down the 68 million naira case so as to allow parties proceed on an out of court settlement which apparently collapsed.
Settlement talks failed following the inability of the contending parties to agree on payment modalities and time frame.
Counsel to the claimant, Mba Ukweni SAN, prayer the court to proceed with the pre-trial because the defendants have not shown seriousness about settlement and the litigants cannot be coming to court just to take dates.
He said the claimants have tendered their documents and in accordance with the doctrine of fair hearing the management of the hospital has been given another chance to come and defend themselves.
His words: “It means they were not prepared to defend the case, they had requested for settlement of the matter and the court indulged them a number of times.
“The settlement failed which was accordingly reported to the court so for they we should proceed to the business of the day”, the SAN said.
Umoh Edem Efa Principal Legal Officer of UCTH told the court that he is aware of the proposed settlement which failed, and need to go and peruse the file which had just been handed over to him.
The presiding judge, Hon Justice Angela Obi, however, proceeded with the pre-trial.
She admitted 17 exhibits against the institution before adjourning the case to the 24th of the month for continuation of the pre-trial.
Justice Angela further asked the Principal legal officer, Umoh Edem Efa to make sure their Counsel was in court on the next sitting.