The Federal High Court Sitting Enugu has adjourned hearing on over N8 billion suit advertising firm, ROCANA Nig Ltd brought against 11 South-East, South-South states including her local government areas for alleged destruction of its billboards and destroying business interest in their various states and council areas without due process of the law to 14th February, 2017.
The presiding judge, Hon. Justice R. O Dugbo Oghoghorie while adjourning the case confirmed that 220 defendants out of 251 defendants have been served court processes but since only 3 defendants were represented court day in the interest of fairness the court will adjourned to 2nd March, 2017 for further mention.
The court however directed the plaintiff to ensure that all the parties in the suit that have not been served processes should be served before the adjourned date.
ROCANA Nigeria Limited, a renowned advertising Company dragged 11 States of Enugu & her 17 LGAs; Anambra & her 21 LGAs; Ebonyi & 12 LGAs; Imo & her 26 LGAs; Abia & her 19 LGAs; Rivers & her 23 LGAs; Edo & her 18 council areas; Delta state & 25 council areas; Cross-River & her 18 council areas; Bayelsa & her 8 council areas and Akwa-Ibom & her 31 council areas;
Others joined in the suit include; Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Incorporated Trustees of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN); Attorney General of the federation; attorney generals of the 11 states; Enugu state Hon. Commissioner for Environment; Ilonah Idoko the operator Lona Global Resources; Chinedum Agwaramgbo the operator of De-Mani DFC International Ltd; Nwigwe-Ani John operator of Ogo Nwigwe Ventures Ltd; Vision Mission Nigeria Ltd; Ozbifyne Global Ltd; Chief Christopher U. Onovo, director, Apippin Global Ventures Ltd; Ozioko Obinna; Mr. Jude Emecheta, COO (ANSAA); Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency (ANSAA);
Imo state Ministry of Internal Resources and Pension Affairs; Hon. Aham Innocent, the operator Leaway Consult; West United Nig Ltd; Abakaliki Capital Territory Development Board; Sunday Edene; Abia State Signage and Advertisement Agency; Edward Niky Industries Ltd; Niel Young Int’L Biz. Ltd; Ozbifyne Global Ltd; Chris Parkes Marketing Solutions Nigeria Ltd; and Cross-River State Signage and Advertisement Agency (CRISSAA) to the court for the violation of constitutional right and destruction of businesses in their various states.
The Plaintiff in a 41 reliefs sought against the 251 defendants in suit no. FHC/EN/CS/132/2016, demands among others N5 billion for exemplary damages for their illegal acts in flagrant breach of declare provisions of the Constitution in section 7(5), item K(I) the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The suit which came in a way of originating summons, the plaintiff sued through its appointed attorney Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo in the matter of interpretation of sections 251(1) (q) & (r); 7(5), the Fourth Schedule item K(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and section 1, 7 & 23(1) Advertising Practitioners (Registration) E. T. C. Act, Cap A7 LFN 2004, formulated 3 questions for the determination of the court.
The plaintiff wants, “a declaration of court that the state governments, their ministries, parastatals, consultants, or agents have no constitutional justification for interfering and or legislating on outdoor advertising and hoarding; the subject matter within the constitutional competence of the local government council, as provided in section 7(5), item K(I) the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Among other claims, the Plaintiff wants N921,890,000 in special damages against Enugu state government and 17 council areas and N5 billion as exemplary damages against the AG, Commissioner for Environment and six consultant for disastrous undermining her economic interest in the state
In a 58 paragraphs affidavit in support of the originating summons depose in court by the appointed attorney, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo sort an order for perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants, privies and workmen from interfering, with outdoor advertising and hoarding, except as provided for in section 7(5) Item K(1), the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria, by following due process of law.
Other reliefs sought are; “an order directing the attorney general of the federation to issue directive to the state governments to forthwith desist from exercising legislative powers of the House of Assembly of the state inconsistent with the mandatory statutory provisions in the Fourth Schedule in section 7(5) (K) & (1) of the 1999 Constitution and an order that the plaintiff is entitled to 10% post judgment interest on the judgment award”.
ROCANA also claimed that Anambra state government and Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency had and received N5,827,300,000.00 from the plaintiff illegally, while praying an order of court directing same to be paid back.
It also claimed N5,175,700.00 special damages against Imo state, and its agents; and an order of court directing same to be paid.
It sought the an order of court directing Ebonyi state government and its agents to pay N678,500,000.00 being money had and received by the government as special damages.
The advertising firm claims N34,931,400.00 against Abia state and its agents and an order of court directing same to be paid.
It also claims a refund of N3,550,000.00 against Cross-River state and its agents and an order of the court directing same to be paid.
When the matter came up for report of service, only Bar. Rex Gireyefoju appeared for Warri North local government area, Delta state while Bar. E. S. Nworie appeared for Mr. Sunday Edene and Abakaliki local government area, Ebonyi state.