Business Hilights
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BPE technically voids sold plots under Ajayi at Lagos Trade Fair Complex

…Insists on concessioning complex with caveat

Strong confusion especially concerning areas yet to be developed in the Lagos Trade Fair Complex prior to the removal of former concessionaire, Aulic Nigeria Limited has unfolded following an express clarification contained in the latest statement issued by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on happenstances in the complex.
This is coming on the fact that whereas the Federal Government has through the BPE noted that it has no intention to sell the Complex but re-concession it, the BPE has technically given a clear signal voiding any form of land transaction so far made since the ejection of Aulic Nigeria Limited in the complex.
Reacting to Monday’s protest by traders in the complex under the aegis of Trade Fair Stakeholders’ Forum (TFSF), lead by the current President of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPMDA), Chief Dr Daniel Offorkansi, BPE averred that “The attention of BPE has been drawn to the alleged closure of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex by the Traders’ Associations operating in the Complex and the protest by the said association over the purported sale of the complex.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the bureau states that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE does not intend to sell the complex rather the facility would be concessioned through a competitive transaction process.
“It is for this reason that the government has procured the services of Messrs Feedback Infrastructure Services (FIS) to advise on the way forward for the proposed concession. It is apt to inform the public that the bureau on Friday, March 1, 2019, met with the entire Traders’ Associations to explain the essence of the planned concession.”
The statement made available to Business Hilights and signed by Head, Public Communications, Amina Othman, recalled that “The bureau had on August 23, 2017, placed a caveat emptor in some national newspapers in the country wherein it stated that the lease agreement that was hitherto executed by the FGN in favour of Aulic Nigeria Limited had been validly terminated and possession reverted to the FGN with effect from 23rd day of August 2017”.
Legal analysts argued that whereas it is yet to be established if Mrs. Lucy Omosefe-Ajayi, who was appointed Executive Director, Lagos Trade Fair Management Board (LTFMB) by the Ministry of Investment, Commerce and Industry following the ouster of Aulic, was then, empowered to sale undeveloped lands in the complex, the position of the BPE in its latest statement on the complex suggests that she has no such powers.
This is based on the fact that the BPE warned in the statement that “Members of the public were, therefore, warned that ‘any purported allotment, buying, selling, letting, leasing, charging, and subdivision, construction upon or dealings in connection with the said property and parcels of land in any other manner howsoever without the written permission of the FGN represented by the BPE is unlawful, illegal, fraudulent and amounts to trespass’.
“It further warned that any person(s) interfering with the said parcels of land ‘stand to lose their money as the FGN through the BPE will neither honour agreements, contracts nor arrangements entered into with person(s) purporting to have authority to transact the property and or parcels of land whether in the manner described or in any other manner whatsoever nor will it reimburse any monies paid in respect of such transaction’.”
Business Hilights recalls that during her first press conference held in April 2018, as the substantive Executive Director, Lagos Trade Fair Complex Management Board, Lucy Omosefe-Ajayi, said the board recorded more than N500 million in the first quarter of 2018 and paid same to the federal government.
Ajayi then, averred that although the management commenced operations on zero budget in 2017, it had been able to generate resources by looking inward.
Checks on what she meant by looking inward revealed that several undeveloped areas which hitherto was not sold by Aulic were sold by her to raise the said N500million in the first quarter of 2018.
Therefore, the sales which raised the N500m, clearly contradicted the position of BPE and further create a big problem considering the BPE quote that “Members of the public were, therefore, warned that ‘any purported allotment, buying, selling, letting, leasing, charging, and subdivision, construction upon or dealings in connection with the said property and parcels of land in any other manner howsoever without the written permission of the FGN represented by the BPE is unlawful, illegal, fraudulent and amounts to trespass’. Business Hilights observed that the statement never said represented by Trade fair Management Board who had been selling portions since recently without recourse to the BPE.On the protest and claims by TFSF, PBE recalled that it had through the services of Messrs FIS, who is to advise on the way forward for the proposed concession, met with leaders of the markets on Friday, March 1, 2019, where the essence of the planned concession was clearly explained.
However, a credible source at BPE confided in our correspondent that whereas the agency will be guided by the report of the consultant it has hired, chances of excising any developed area in the emerging concessioning may depend on presentation of convincing facts which may not favour any developer that secured allocations from Aulic and the current ED of the TFMB, Mrs. Omosefe-Ajayi.
Efforts to speak to the ED of the TFMB, Mrs. Omosefe-Ajayi, failed as at the time of going to the press.