Investors seek $1.2m refund as Enugu cancels Hotel Presidential contract
After enduring a five- year hiatus, the revamp of one of the nation’s landmarks – Hotel Presidential, Enugu is now mired in controversy, as the investors – Primeview Hotels Limited are demanding a refund of their money, following an alleged cancellation of the project by the State Government.
The firm is the concessionaire of the Hotel Presidential by virtue of the joint venture agreement dated September 17, 2013 between Hotel Presidential Limited, E Hospitality Services Limited and Primeview Hotels Ltd as well as Deed of Assignment dated February 6, 2014 between Hotel Presidential Ltd and Primeview Hotels Ltd respectively. The legal title in the Property is vested in Primeview Hotels Ltd (PHL) for 35 years commencing from October 1, 2013.
PHL has been in uninterrupted possession of the property since August 2013 and carried out extensive work both on site and offsite with a view to redeveloping and transforming the hotel to a world class hospitality facility.
The Guardian gathered that a group of armed soldiers, policemen and Civil Defence corps /legionnaires forced their way into the Hotel on Monday, October 30 manhandled the company’s security personnel and took over the property without a letter of authority or valid court order.
The Vice Chairman of Primeview the SPV that owns the asset, Chuma Anosike said, “the invaders claimed to have been instructed to take over the Hotel by Mrs. Rita Mbah, the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism who later came to the site in company of some other persons we learnt were prospective investors.”
“Unfortunately, we have experienced a number of setbacks the latest of which is a pending law suit by an entity which claimed to have had a previous interest in the Property.
“To the extent that PHL were joined as co-defendants in the suit together with the Officials of the Enugu State Government, we advised the Government to resolve the matter as the facts relating to the dispute arose prior to our engagement.
“Since 2015, we have met with the Government team including the Governor, his Deputy, members of the State Privatisation Council and the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism and we have kept them apprised of our challenges and suggested ways in which we can move forward.
“At the last of such meetings held in June this year, it was agreed that efforts would be made to reach out to Status Symbol Ltd, the litigant in the aforesaid suit with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution so that we could all move forward without further hindrance.
“PHL has continued to work with its Consultants to fine tune plans for the restoration of the Hotel including making funding arrangements which have altered significantly given the foreign exchange situation and level of inflation in the country.
“We therefore received with great shock and disappointment the government had decided against good reason, common sense and more importantly in flagrant disregard of the provisions of a legally binding agreement taken matters into her own hands and orchestrated an attempted violent takeover of the Hotel from PHL.”
According to Anosike, since taking possession of the property, Primeview has spent over $1.2 million to conduct of geological survey; topographical survey; structural integrity test on building; environmental impact assessment; complete strip out of pipes, wire in the entire building and complete water proofing and refurbishment of roof.
In May this year, the state government reached a decision at the state executive council meeting to take concrete steps towards revitalizing the state owned hotel, abandoned for more than five years ago.
The state commissioner for information, Dr. Godwin Udeuhele, said the council approved that the parties, which had previously expressed interest in managing the hotel be engaged with a view to amicably resolving all outstanding issues.
He said: “This directive was sequel to an exhaustive discussions on a memo presented by the commissioner for culture and tourism who brought a memo on the status of the Presidential Hotel.”
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