Another lawsuit has been slammed on the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi at a Federal High Court, Abuja, over alleged award of a 190km rail line construction worth N91.7 billion to a Chinese firm without due process.
Persecondnews reports that also sued are the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Malam Abubakar Malami, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
Meanwhile, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed has fixed February 17, 2022 for hearing of the case.
Plaintiffs in the suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/1426/2021) are: Duluidas Nigeria Limited; Duliz Dredging and Construction Limited; and Consortium of Duluidas Nigeria Limited, Duliz Dredging and Construction Limited/Hebbelyixin Fastener Company Limited, China.
The lead counsel of the plaintiffs, Mr James Okoh, is asking the court to cancel the “No Objection” letter issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in favour of CCECC for award of the N91.5 billion rail line contract, in breach of procurement laws, and re-issue same in their favour.
The contract in dispute is for reconstruction of narrow gauge track from Minna in Niger State to Baro with extension to Baro River Port, to be completed within 36 months.
The plaintiffs are asking for an injunction restraining all the defendants from awarding or purporting to award the contract to the Chinese firm or any third party on the basis of the allegedly flawed bidding process.
They are also seeking an order to set aside any purported award on the basis of the alleged flawed and heavily compromised bid process by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with concurrence of other defendants.
Specifically, they also asked for an order restraining the Transportation Minister or any of his agents from presenting CCECC to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the purpose of awarding the contract.
“We are also asking the court to set aside any purported approval received from FEC, awarding the disputed contract to any other company during the pendency of the suit.”
The plaintiffs, who claimed to have quoted a lesser amount of N76.7 billion for the execution of the same project during bidding, are alleging bias against them by the Transportation Minister and undue favouritism towards CCECC.
Persecondnews had reported that following whistleblowers reports and a suit slammed on the senior public officials involved in the fraudulently conceived multi-billion International Cargo Tracking Note for Nigeria, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and others from taking any further step towards nominating any company or entity to be operators of the ICTN.
The court ordered that the injunction granted should subsist pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice filed pursuant to the substantive suit.
Other officers and agencies of the Federal Government affected by the court order are the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the ICTN implementing agencies appointed by Amaechi singlehandedly without due process — MedTech Scientific Ltd and Rozi International Ltd.
Persecondnews recalls that the Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) and other maritime organizations had raised concerns about the official malfeasance associated with the ongoing process of appointing an implementing agent for the ICTN in Nigeria.
Consequently, CASER decided to challenge in court the manner the process is being carried out by the Minister of Transportation.
CASER instituted the case out of serious concern for Nigeria’s internal security following the massive inflow of small arms and light weapons (SALW) through Nigerian seaports. CASER is also concerned that Nigeria loses huge billions of dollars following the improper tracking of cargo exports and imports.
The overall goal of the case by CASER, according to Mr Frank Tietie, the Executive Director, is to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) with international best practices and standards in procurement of such security-sensitive services.