The 10,000 metric tonnes automated silo being constructed by the Oyo State Government at Oyo town continues to witness fresh episodes of setbacks to its completion since 2017 when it was expected to be inaugurated to boost agriculture in the state.
Among the several causes of delay is the ongoing legal battle between the state government and its technical partners and contractors.
The case saw a new episode on Thursday, when the High Court sitting in Oyo, mandated the Governor of the State, the State’s Attorney General and two others to appear before it on May 14 for alleged contempt of court.
Justice Iyabo Yerima issued the order while adjudicating on a notice of consequence of disobedience to a restraining order of court issued on April 9, 2019.in Suit No: HOY/06/2019, the case between Rahvet International Limited as claimant and Governor of Oyo State, Oyo State government, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development of in the state and Attorney General of the state as defendants.
Following motion exparte filed by Bode Elemide & Co Legal Practioners and Notaries, on behalf of the claimant, Justice Yerima had on that date, issued an order restraining the defendants and their agents, from forcefully taking over and breaking into the silo project site situated at Oyo-Awe road by Awe junction, Oyo town, pending the determination of the interlocutory application.
The judge had also issued an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants and other associates from tampering with any of the equipment stored by the applicant within the premises of the project site or in any way attempting to install equipment without active and direct participation of the claimant and its technical partners, that is, China National Heavy Machine Corporation (CHMC), pending the determination of the interlocutory application.
While filing a contempt proceeding on Thursday, counsel to the claimant, Bode Elemide relying on order 42 Rules 9 & 10 of the Oyo state High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2010, stated that on April 10, 2019, the defendants flouted the restraning order by breaking the locks to the gate of the site in order to gain entry.
He said that upon breaking into the site, the “invaders” poured libation and conducted some rituals on the site.
Relying on Form 48, Order 42, Rule 10, Elemide then filed a notice of consequence of disobedience to court order, arguing that the defendants were guilty of contempt of court and liable to be committed to prison.
Counsel to the defendants, Mr Najeem Abiola, however stated that a motion to stay proceedings had been filed and should supersede the April 9 court order. He also argued that the defendants were not served personally and that the form 48 did not contain an express narrative of the invasion alleged by the claimant.
Ruling, Justice Yerima, however, held that the fact that the defendants had disobeyed a court order subsisted and that the office of the defendants sued acknowledged receipt of the April 9 court order.
According to her, the court order should have been obeyed rather the defendants filling an application for stay of proceedings.
She then adjourned the case till May 14, ordering the defendants to appear and to prepare their defence on the contempt of court case against them.
The silo is a project of the “Agric-Oyo” programme inaugurated by the state government to boost agriculture in the state.
The silo with waybridge, trailer park and other modern facilities, was sited close to Owode Grain Market, one of the largest grain markets in Nigeria.
While inspecting the project in January 2017, Governor Abiola Ajimobi had projected that it would be inaugurated in six months.