Three construction companies have dragged the Minister of Transportation and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged unlawful award of 190-km rail line construction to a Chinese Firm without due process.
The minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and the AGF, Abubakar Malami, were sued along with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the benefitting firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
Plaintiffs in the suit, marked 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.
In their writ of summons, issued by their lead counsel, Mr James Okoh, the plaintiffs are asking the court to cancel the letter of “No Objection” issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in favour of CCECC.
The companies said the letter was issued for the award of the N91.5 billion rail line contract in breach of procurement laws and it should be re-issued in their favour.
They claimed that the disputed contract was for the reconstruction of narrow gauge track from Minna in Niger to Baro with extension to the Baro River Port in the sum of N91.5 billion with a completion period of 36 months.
The 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 on the basis of the flawed bidding process.
They, however, in the alternative, sought an order setting aside any purported award on the basis of the flawed and compromised bidding process by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with the concurrence of other defendants.
They also asked for an order restraining the minister of transportation or any of his agents from presenting the CCECC to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the purpose of an award of the contract.
The companies also asked the court to set aside any purported approval received from the FEC awarding the disputed contract to any other company during the pendency of the suit.
The plaintiffs claimed they quoted a lower amount of N76.7 billion for the execution of the same contract.
They, therefore, alleged that there was bias against them by the minister and undue favouritism in favour of CCECC in the contract award.
According to the plaintiffs, “through a private tender, the NRC on Feb. 23, 2021, invited them to submit a financial bid for the job and we emerged successful along with other companies.”
The plaintiffs prayed the court to declare that the minister and his agents were biased in their assessment of the bidding in favour of the CCECC.
They applied for order of injunction against the minister, his ministry and the CCECC from continuing with the award of the contract and execution of same on the basis of the flawed process.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed has fixed Feb. 17, to hear the matter. nan.