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Sally Mbanefo’s Tourism Board accused of N13 million rent debt by property owners

OTUNBA GANI ADAMS,SALLEY NBANAFOR & TAYO SHOYODE (2)
The property 1

The property

The Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, headed by Ms Sally Mbanefo is at loggerheads with Union Property Development Limited, owners of the property the NTDC is using as zonal office in Lagos over unpaid rent.

Owner of the property on 168, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja Lagos, through its estate surveyor and valuers, Alonge Ogunmoyero and Co, has accused NTDC of refusing to pay rent it owed for one year (from March 2013 to March 2014) amounting to N13,345,333.33 (Thirteen million, three hundred and forty five thousand, three hundred and three naira, thirty three kobo).

But the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation is insisting the backlog of rent owed was incurred by the former director general of the corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe.

The property

The property

A letter dated March 7, 2014, addressed to the Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, Garki, Abuja, from Alonge Ogunmoyero and Co, managers of the said property notified the leadership of the corporation of the rent incurred.

The letter reads: Vacation of premises 168, Awolowo Way, Ikeja.

Your continued stay in the above premises after expiration of your tenancy is an embarrassment and financial burden on the landlord, as you are also delaying renovation on the property.

Please, note that your intention to either vacate the property like a thief in the night or use brut federal might without the irreducible minimum will not be in the interest of both parties.

We therefore, urge you to please, immediately pay your outstanding rent and vacate without further delay.

Another letter dated March 11, 2014, also from the office of the managers of the property, Alonge Ogunmoyero and Co, to the director general, NTDC gave a breakdown of how the debt was incurred.

Outstanding rent                                N11,500,000.00

Rent for March 2014                         N     958,333.00

Terminal obligation of internal

repairs and redecoration

including painting                             N     885,000,00

Total                                                      N13,345,333.00

The letter also included ultimatum by which the tenant, (NTDC) should pay the rent owed or be dragged to court. Owners of the property also accused NTDC of not only indebtedness of one year rent, they also said NTDC did not execute rent domiciliation agreement.

We reached out to key leadership of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation on the issue. We started with the Director General, Ms Sally Mbanefo. She replied our text message on Friday, March 21, 2014, directing us to contact one Mr. Ibrahim Mark (SAN), who is the lawyer negotiating on behalf of the corporation. She also threatened that we will be getting into trouble if you decide to go on with our story.

“Whosoever gave we that story wants to get you into trouble”.

Her second text message later read, “Sir, the property was rented by the former director general at an inflated unrealistic rate without any documentation. We are currently negotiating with the landlord. If you print malicious article, we shall sue your paper. We have already briefed a lawyer, who is handling negotiation”.

Mr. Eboka, who is the Administration Manager, NTDC also said the same thing. “The rent in question was incurred by the former director general. On the whole, I will advice that you don’t publish anything”.

Mr. Obafemi Ilesanmi, Head, Lagos Zone, didn’t reply our text sent to him on Friday, March 21, 2014.

Mrs. Funebi, who is the head of Legal Department, NTDC, spoke with us on Saturday, March 22, 2014, after seeing our text message.

“Why is the media taking this matter as if it’s a bad thing for a government agency to owe rent.

“The rent in question was incurred by the former director general of the corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe.”

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