By Bassey Asuquo, Calabar
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has received an order from a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, to restore water and electricity supply on the business premises of its tenant, Effanga Offiong alleged to have been forceful evicted from where he operates a restaurant/bar at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport car wash centre, Calabar, Cross River State.
The plaintiff had cried to the court in claiming that he was unjustly subdued, humiliated before being evicted by his Landlord and cohorts.
In response the court waded into the matter in suit: NO: FHC/CA/CS/79/2019 between Effanga Offiong as plaintiff, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN, and other six defendants.
Disagreement brewed up Effanga who is the plaintiff and management of Airport Authority FAAN defendant when a concessionaire to FAAN, Mr. George Charles Ekpo sub-leted a shop which he had rented from at the tune of N45,000 per annum to Mr. Effanga Offiong and two other tenants at the sum of N250, 000 per annum.
As years passed by, Mr George unilaterally increased the rent to the tune of N850,000 for Effanga and the other two tenants are to pay to him as their annual rent even when George still remits N45,000 to FAAN with holding to himself the sum of N805,000.
Effanga raised an alarm saying that the increment,was too much for him to cope with as there were other utility bills for water, electricity supply, value added tax (VAT) and others to cope with.
Effanga appealed to Mr. George to help him and two other tenants off set the utility bills which had accumulated to up to N2m, unfortunately George remained intransigent to the plight of his tenants.
George felt so bitter with Effanga for daring to question the increment, he went ahead to collaborate with head of civil department of Margaret Ekpo international Airport Calabar, Engr. Jesuorobo Christopher Osazee, and some security personnel who finally raid Effanga’s restaurant/bar.
The Federal High Court suit, averred that in May 4, 2019, Osazee and George in company of security personnel from the Special Mobility Force 207 Nigerian Airforce attached to Magaret Ekpo International Airport Calabar stormed restaurant for the hatchet job.
The raiders who stormed the restaurant was led by the Divisional Police Officer DPO in charge of Margaret Ekpo International Airport police division, Supol David Ekong, in company of personnel of the Nigeria Air force in company of fierce looking men suspected to be thugs who have had been arranged by Mr. George .
The suit enumerated items lost during the raid by the attackers to include, the restaurant roof pull down, water/electricity cables were all cut off including the operational cash of N950,000 kept in a closet of the restaurant missing.
The suit maintained that Effanga had before the raid suffered harassment in the hands of the DPO where he was asked not to operate beyond 7:00pm and was arrested and detained by the DPO in company of one of his customers for two days where they both paid N10,000 each to secure their bail.
Irked by the development, Effanga had no where to run to than go to court which to him is the last hope to a common man.
The suit restraint FAAN from evicting Effanga, restore all utility need in his restaurant/bar pending the determination of a motion on notice with the case adjourned to September 30, for hearing.
However, the manager, Margaret Ekpo international Airport, Mr. Hilary Umunna when asked by our reporter via a mobile phone call to react to the issue, Umunna said that he cannot comment on the issue as he lacks the competence to speak on the matter except those in FAAN’s corporate Affairs department.
“We don’t talk from this angle, we have a corporate Affairs from Headquarters anything correspondence is handle by the corporate Affairs department”.
In the reaction to the alleged involvement of the DPO of in charge of Airport Police Station in the matter where he was accused of being used by Mr. George Charles and Engr. Osazee to intimidate harassed and trample subdue and subjugate Effanga’s and his enterprise, the Cross River State Police Command Public Relations Officer PPRO Irene Ugbo, said she cannot comment on the matter at a moment until he is brief by the accused DPO who has she said had been transferred to Area Command Akim Police Station stressing that the command will find out the extend to which the DPO in charge of Airport Police division for is involved in the matter for appropriate measures to be taken.
In a telephone discussion on the issue with concessionaire to the airport Mr. George Charles Ekpp 4th defendant in the matter who had been been accused as being a major actor in the matter by the suit to explain his own side of the story, Ekpo said, “I do not think I have anything to say on this issue, the matter is already in court, let the court adjudicate on it”.