The Presbyterian Church of Nigerian has dragged Ebonyi Governor David Umahi to court for taking over its hospital.
Also joined in the suit are Ebobi Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as well as Ebonyi Assembly as second and third defendants.
The church in suit no HAB/120/2020 is seeking N5bn for general damages from the Governor for the takeover and shutting down of the Presbyterian Joint Hospital in the Governor’s hometown of Ụbụrụ.
The State Government in 2020 announced the immediate shutdown and subsequent takeover of the hospital.
The government said the action was a sequel to a petition by the host community over the expiration of the church’s 100-year lease.
The community, according to the State Government, also alleged misappropriation of funds, high medical charges on indigent patients, use of obsolete equipment in the treatment of patients and absence of qualified doctors, urging the state government to take over the management of the hospital.
But the church in the suit disagreed with the government’s position, arguing that the lease was still subsisting and had not expired.
The church said the three lands upon which the hospital is built owned by some families in Ụbụrụ and leased in 1917, 1923 and 1958 are still subsisting till 2026, 2052 and for as long as it is being used for the purpose it was leased respectively.
It prayed the court to declare that its leasehold interest over all the hospital lands remains valid and subsisting.
The church is also asking the court for a declaration that the purported takeover of its leasehold interest in the hospital lands and its hospital is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The Church is also praying the court for a declaration that the third defendant’s (Ebonyi State House of Assembly) purported revocation of the statutory right of occupancy over the land upon which the hospital is built is ultra vires the powers of the third defendant and is accordingly unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
The Church is also praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the state government from taking any further moves to take over the hospital.
When the matter came up for hearing the Counsel to the Church, Uche Awa (SAN) was in court while the State Government was not represented.
Justice Ken Eze adjourned the matter to the 12th of May for pre-trial.