The Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry sitting in the State High Court, Port Harcourt has been told that the sale of Hotel Olympia under the former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi put up one of the state assets, Hotel Olympia for concession with Centrum Cerophim, in the hope of generating about $4.450m in rent for a period of 40years.
This included the initial payment of $1million to the state
government as concession agreement by the concessionaire.
The five-member Commission of Inquiry led by Justice G.O.Omereji took up the matter yesterday in Port Harcourt as part of its fact-finding mandate to investigate the sale of valued assets and other related matters by the administration of Rotimi Amaechi.
Standing as witness in the matter, the Project Director of Centrum Properties Limited, Engineer Chinedu Okpaleke, gave account of the agreement with the state government under Amaechi, saying that following the payment of $1m agreement allegedly paid into the Keystone Bank account of the state government, the concessionaire
would not pay any money until 10 years after which the hotel in question must have been running and became fully operational.
It was revealed that after the first 10 years of non-payment in rent, the concessionaire, according to the agreement would start to pay the sum of $500.000.00 as annual rent during the subsistence of the concession
for 40 years to the state government, through the ministry of commerce years, with provisions for renewal.
But the Commission mood became very charged when counsel to the Commission, Dr. Zaccheus Adango subjected the witness to some cross-examination, which bothered on the connection Shaara energy
Group, said to be a subsidiary of Centrum Cerophim may have had with the alleged purchase of the three state owned gas turbines located at Omoku ,Eleme and Trans-Amadi, this led the defendant’s counsel, Olukayode Dada, to raise an objection to the cross-examination. He argued that the sale of the state gas turbines in the state did not
have bearing with the issue that brought his client as a witness, he called on the commission to restrict its investigations to the alleged sale of the Hotel Olympia. But the Commission Chairman, Justice Omereji set aside the objection of the defendant by saying that the issues were interrelated as part of the commission’s mandate which include the need to investigate the sale of the state owned gas turbines.
Project Director of Centrum Properties Limited equally stated that Rivers State had no representative in the board of the concessionaire, adding that part of the plan was for the company to demolish and put up a new structure because of the fact that, the old building the way it was, could not pass a test of integrity.
However, the witness told the Commission that the Hotel Olympia’s old structure, before the construction of the new one had no design record as well as record of survey.
But as part of its fact finding mission, the Commission Chairman, having adjourned hearing on the matter till Wednesday (today), stated that the members of the commission will undertake a visit to the premises of the new hotel building same day.


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