By Olalekan Awojodu
A consortium of contractors has challenged the Federal Government in court over the N80.6 billion rail track contract from Minna in Niger State to Baro, it awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), asking a Federal High Court in Abuja to reverse the deal because of an existing suit challenging the legality of the process leading to the contract.
In the suit, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Abubakar Malami SAN were alleged to have awarded the contract in spite of a subsisting court action against them and two others.
Amaechi and Malami were jointly sued along with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and China Civil Engineering Construction Company, (CCECC) over the legality of processes that led to award of the 190km rail line construction work.
The request for order of court to cancel the contract was contained In a 13-paragraph further affidavit in support of a motion for interlocutory injunction against the four defendants in the suit.
The further affidavit was deposed to by a lawyer, Benedict Onyolu against the contract award in which the plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1426/2021 are demanding reversal of the contract on the ground that the action of Amaechi and Malami constituted affront and disrespect to court authority.
Besides the request for cancellation of the contract, the plaintiffs also asked the court to sanction Amaechi and Malami to serve as deterrence to other agents of government engaging in unlawful acts.
Plaintiffs in the suit 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 grouse of the plaintiffs was that while motion on notice for interlocutory injunction duly served on Amaechi and Malami was pending, they disregarded the pendency of the suit on January 19, 2022 and presented the contentious contract to the Federal Executive Council FEC for award to the Chinese firm.
The letter of award of the contract to CCECC dated January 31, 2022 was attached to the further affidavit along with the CCECC’s acceptance of the contract dated February 4, 2022.
Part of the further affidavit read “I know that none of the parties in a litigation before a court of law is allowed to take the law into his own hands and foist upon the court fait accompli thereby rendering it impossible for the court to arrive at decision one way or the other”
Meanwhile, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed April 26 for determination of the motion on notice seeking interlocutory injunctions against the four defendants in the suit.
Plaintiffs in their writ of summons issued by their lead counsel, James Okoh, are asking the Federal High Court to cancel the letter of “No Objection” issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in favour of CCECC for the award of the Rail Line Contract.
The disputed contract is for the reconstruction of the narrow gauge track from Minna in Niger State to Baro, with an extension to the Baro River Port at a sum of N80.6 billion and a completion period of 36 months.
Plaintiffs prayed the court for an injunction restraining all the defendants from awarding or purporting to award the contract to the Chinese firm or any third party based on the flawed bidding process.