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Businessman Files N5trn Suit Against Works Minister, Others Over Alleged Copyright Breach

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A businessman, Mr Kenneth Ibe-Kalu, has filed a N5 trillion suit against the Minister of Works and Housing over alleged copyright infringement, according to NAN report.

Ibe-Kalu, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1047/2022 before Justice Bolaji Olajuwon, sought 22 reliefs.

The case filed during President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, alleged that Mr Babatunde Fashola, who was the presiding minister and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) were “liable for the tort of conversion” by dealing with Ibe-Kalu’s idea and concept as though the idea and concept belonged to them.

In the writ of summons dated July 13, 2022, and filed Dec. 13, Hugiano Embold Solutions Ltd and Ibe-Kalu, the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs, sued the Minister of Works, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and ICRC as 1st to 3rd defendants.

Also joined in the suit are Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), National Planning Commission (NPC), KPMG Advisory Services, KPMG Professional Services as 4th to 8th defendants.

Others are Incorporated Trustees of Pan Atlantic University Foundation (Lagos Business School) and United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (United Kingdom Nigeria Infrastructural Advisory Facility Programme) as 9th to 10th defendants respectively.

Ibe-Kalu, the Managing Director of the 1st plaintiff, in the amended statement of claims, averred that he was the one, who conceptualised the idea of National Transformation Tourists Centers (NTTC).

He said he was moved by patriotic zeal and personally undertook extensive research and study into infrastructure driven economic development of Nigeria to address the huge infrastructure deficit and promote development in the process.

According to him, the NTTC idea is a development initiative to boost even development across the country, to secure safety on the highways, to encourage tourism as well as to tackle the security challenges bedeviling the nation.

He said as conceived, 15 per cent of the accruable revenue from the management of the concept would go to the state governments while five per cent accruable revenue would go to the Federal Government.

He said In a letter dated March 15, 2016, he wrote to former President Buhari and the concept was approved on a Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

He said after an Input by the then Information minister, the NTTC concept was assigned to Works minister to partner with him to actualise the project on April 7, 2017.

He alleged that Fashola and ICRC infringed on his right by adapting his idea as theirs and renamed it as Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI) against Buhari’s directive.

According to him, Fashola and ICRC contacted KPMG Advisory Services and KPMG Professional Services (7th and 8th defendants), an accounting firm, to estimate the cost of execution of NTTC concept renamed as HDMI.

Ibe-Kalu averred that 12 routes were approved by ICRC estimated to cost N1.34 trillion.

“The plaintiffs aver that the probable cost of execution of the 340 NTTC is estimated to be around the figure of N50 trillion only,” he added.

He said after bidding by contractors, the minister of works is now partnering with 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th defendants to actualise the HDMI.

He said he wrote letters to all the defendants to notify them of alleged right breach.

Ibe-Kalu, therefore, sought an order directing the defendants jointly and severally to continue with the plaintiffs with respect to the commencement, the execution and the completion of project on PPP arrangement.

He sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with his copyright.

He also sought an order of conversion deeming him as the author and owner of the alleged minister of works’ HDMI which was an adaptation of his NTTC.

He equally sought an order directing the works minister and ICRC jointly and severally to render to him account of all monies received by them on the basis of HDMI, alleged to be an adaptation of NTTC idea.

Ibe-Kalu further prayed for an order directing the works minister and ICRC to pay him the sum of N5 trillion as exemplary damages for breach of copyright, contract and conversion of his concept, among other reliefs

While being led in evidence-in-chief by his lawyer, John Oseji, before Justice Olajuwon, Ibe-Kalu identified all the documents tendered in evidence and were admitted as exhibits.

The judge adjourned the matter until May 2 for cross examination of Ibe-Kalu, the prosecution witness. (NAN)

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