Businessman sues Eko Hotels, seeks reassignment of Judge
An international businessman, Chief Solomon Nwadiogbu, has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to reassign his case against management of the Eko Hotel and Suites from Justice S. Saidu, over alleged bias and lack of confidence.
Nwadiogbu told reporters in Lagos at the weekend the suit he filed against the Eko Hotel and Suites over the illegal seizure of his personal belongings valued at about N400m is about to be frustrated by Justice Saidu, who has allegedly refused to hear the case after almost a year of being assigned the case.
According to Nwadiogbu, who is the claimant in suit No. FHC/L/CS/630/2019 between him and Eko Hotels and Suites, the judge has been doling out different excuses and demands before he can even hear the case, talk less of arriving at when he would deliver judgment.
The businessman is locked in a legal battle with the Lagos hotel over the seizure of his personal belongings worth almost N400m.
“But it is surprising that nearly one year of filing the suit at the Federal High Court and the reassignment of the case to Justice Saidu, the judge has been making different efforts to frustrate the case by not hearing and even making outrageous demands that has nothing to do with the case.
“All we hear whenever we go to court is excuses from Justice Saidu that he is not happy because he is retiring soon and has no money and that he is overworked, and all sorts.”
“When he (the judge) saw my first petition that he should excuse himself from the case and assign to another judge, he reached out to me through his registrar, Onome.
“The said Onome has visited my house four times for this same matter. On getting to me he handed me the phone to speak with the judge through a WhatsApp call and the Judge told me that the petition I wrote to the Admin Judge cannot have any “effect,” adding that the Admin Judge is not the Chief Justice. He finalized by saying that I was running away from doing the ‘needful,” Nwadiogbu alleged.
According to Nwadiogbu, the judge openly told his counsel in court that he has three judgements to write and he was planning his son’s wedding but has no money.
Upon the deliberate delays, the businessman said he wrote a letter to the Federal High Court, Lagos, asking that his case be transferred to another judge.
He even wrote a reminder before the date of hearing to the judge and on the date for the hearing, the judge was confirmed to be absent.
“My cause for concern is as to why the case has been delayed as all the papers of both parties in this said case have been before the judge since June 2019 ,” he said.
His media adviser, Mr Fidelis Chukwuma, explained what transpired between his principal and the hotel.
According to him, the businessman was a long permanent guest at the Eko Hotel and Suites for six years between 2013 and 2019.
He occupied a permanent suite in the guest house located in the heart of Victoria Island.
“Being a man of means and people,” he said the billionaire businessman expectedly made his permanent suite a place where he hosted friends, clients, business partners and for six years he was said to have paid his bills as and when due.
“He (Nwadiogbu) is a reputable businessman, who is a well-known philanthropist with a passion for the poor, considering how he has been putting food on the table of hundreds of less privileged on daily basis, was a reliable and trusted customer of Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos for six solid years between 2013 and 2019.
“The billionaire philanthropist due to the nature of his business and hosting of many of his clients, partners and staff, as well as the business relationship with the expatriates, had a permanent suite in Eko Hotel for about six years, paying for his bills regularly.
“This development without any iota of doubt made him perhaps the longest permanent guest in the highbrow hotel. Prior to his stay in Eko Hotels and Suites, this international businessman had also had permanent suits in different hotels in Lagos and outside the Centre of Excellence for months between 2010 and 2013. And in all the hotels, he paid his bills to the last kobo without any records of indebtedness.
“But regardless of his commitment to the hotel, some of the staff and management team of the hotels wanted to cut corners through him by offering the ‘special guest’ deals that is injurious to the hotel, which the international businessman evidently turned down because he is an honest man.
“Curiously, the officials went behind Nwadiogbu and dubiously opened a lot of PM accounts in the businessman’s name and subsequently checked people in into the hotel without his knowledge and thereby using him to commit fraud within the hotel.”
When he found out, the businessman, it was learnt, frowned against the development because he doesn’t want to abuse privileges and won’t be happy and comfortable if his workers do the same thing to him.
“At a point, the businessman had a health challenge which affected his system while in the hotel and he was rushed to a hospital where it was later discovered that his food in the hotel was poisoned. He was moved from the hotel to three different hospitals and his medical bills gulped millions for treatments.”
Based on the ugly incident, an agreement was said to been reached between the industrialist and the hotel that he should be cooking his food and on the strength of this, he employed his cook and he stopped eating from the hotel’s services.
“It was also learnt that the perpetrators of the alleged fraud went on to crash the systems to avoid the businessman from reporting the fraud to the new helmsman in charge of Eko Hotel.
“But little did they know that the diligence in the businessman has made him keep all shreds of evidence of payments he made while staying in the hotel.
“Based on the alleged dubious nature of the hotel managers, the businessmen decided to quit his stay in the hotel because he felt that he cannot continue to put up with the mess going on there.
“But to his chagrin, he was accused of not paying his bills on foods in the hotel for six years. He subsequently issued a cheque of N20million and told them that he needs proof of their claims.
“But after two days, his cheque was returned back to him on account that he should not bother himself with the allegation. And to date, there was no proof that he owes the hotels.
“But to his surprise when he decided to move his cars out from the hotel premises, the hotel management prevented him from doing, thereby stalling the removal of four cars belonging to his company and other properties worth over N400million on the account that he owed the hotel N18million.
“Irked by the development, the businessman, who has high regards for the rule of law, approached a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos and filed his case with all documented pieces of evidence.
“But amusingly, since April 2019 till date, the case with Suit No. FHC/L/CS/630/2019 has not been put up for hearing and has continued to suffer several baseless adjournments by the assigned Judge for the case. For instance, when the case was called in June 2019, it was surprisingly adjourned to November 2019.”
Chukwuma said: “it is not only Chief Nwadiogbu that is calling for the reassignment of this case but knowledgeable members of the public are also seeking that as it has become a public issue.
“This is so because tongues are wagging in the country on why a hotel facility will treat his customer of six years in such a manner by withholding his properties of over N400m in lieu of a phantom N18million debt that supposedly didn’t exist. Nigerians are watching. “