Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu is defending his name in court over allegations that he collected huge sums of money from businessman Chris Uba.
He has explained why he travelled to Britain on tickets Uba claimed to have bought.
The journey was made on September 21-25, 2005 for the inspection of some equipment manufactured by Infotera Limited, Leicester, UK.
Iwu and the other top officials of the commission are accused by controversial businessman and politician Uba of fraudulently obtaining over €536,000 and $21,593,70 from him for a N4 billion contract that was supposed to be given to him (Uba).
Uba said the INEC chairman breached an agreement with him by awarding the contract to another firm in which he (Iwu) has interest.
Uba filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Abuja against Iwu and seven other officials of the commission for breaching the contractual agreement reached with his company (ILOKRIS LTD.) in September 2005 for the supply of Satellite Imagery Geographical Information System to be used for the April general elections.
In his defence, filed on his behalf by Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), Iwu said that he was invited to the United Kingdom sometime in August, 2005 by Infotera Limited, Leicester, U.K to assess their satellite imagery and Biographical Information System.
According to a sworn affidavit dated November 22 by Okon Nkanu Efut from Agabi Chambers, Iwu said that he and the others visited Infotera between September 21 and 25, 2005.
Iwu said the visit and inspection of Infotera’s office did not translate into any contract between him, other officials of the commission and Uba.
He added that the commission did not enter into any contract with the politician. To him, the proper party in the suit filed by Uba should have been Infotera Limited and Chris Uba.
Iwu and the others said they had a defence to the case which, according, to them, was brought based on a non-existent contract.
The defendants said they had never had any contractual relations with Uba.
Iwu’s defence said: “Sometime in August, 2005, the second defendant was invited by INFOTERA LTD, LEICESTER, U.K. to visit their U.K. Office with a view to assessing their satellite imagery combined with Geographical Information System.
“The second defendant accepted this invitation, and visited the corporate office of INFOTERRA in U.K. between 21st-25th September, 2005.
“The visit did not translate into any contract between the plaintiffs and the defendants upon which the plaintiffs can maintain a claim.”
Besides, Iwu and the others claimed that the suit was not authorized by the plaintiffs’ boards of directors.
“The Memorandum of Understanding referred to in paragraph 7 of the plaintiff’s supporting affidavit is based on illegal term, and none of the defendants was privy to that Memorandum of Understanding referred to as Exhibit “A”.
“The second to ninth defendants who purportedly acted as agents of the first defendant (a known principal) have no business being joined as parties to this suit,” they said.
Other planks of Iwu’s defence are that:
•there is no company incorporated and known as Phillip Parker – Ilokris Ltd;
•Exhibit ‘B’ of the plaintiff’s affidavit is an invitation purportedly extended by a non-existent company (Phillip Parker/Ilokris Consortium) to the second defendant, containing no terms or conditions for any future contract between the plaintiff and the defendants;
•Exhibits “D” and E* attached to the plaintiff’s affidavit make no reference to the Plaintiffs, but to INFOTERRA LTD;
•between the plaintiff and the defendants, there was no offer, acceptance, consideration or intention to enter into legal or illegal relations upon which to base this claim;
•this case has disclosed no reasonable cause of action, and the defendants shall object to the competence of this case, and the jurisdiction of the court; and that
•the first defendant does not enter into any contract orally, being a statutory body which must follow due formal process in any transaction.
Iwu denied that Uba’s company expended any money at the instance, instigation or consent of any of the defendants.
He said he never requested, neither was he given £560,000.00 in cash by the “so-called consortium” or anybody for that matter, adding that he and the other defendants are not indebted to the plaintiffs in the amount claimed or at all.
The defendants (jointly or severally) never entered into any agreement with the plaintiff for the procurement and supply of any machines, he said.
The affidavit of defence states that: “from the facts as disclosed in the Statement of Claim and documents attached to the plaintiff’s affidavit, the proper parties to this suit are INFOTERRA LTD and Chris Uba who are curiously not joined in this suit;
•the defendants do not owe the plaintiffs any contractual or other obligation.
•this claim is not for a debt or liquidated money demand as to be heard under the “Undefended List”; and that
•this case deserves to be struck out or transferred to the General Cause List for hearing on the General Cause List.
The court has adjourned the hearing till February 5.
– The Nation