Court stops Amaechi, Malami, BPP from awarding cargo tracking system contract

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered relevant officials and agency of the federal government to stop the plan to award a sensitive international cargo tracking system contract to two firms – Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited.

The court order restrained all five defendants sued in the suit – the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the two firms – from taking any further steps concerning the appointment of an operator for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN)

D.U. Okorowo, the judge, issued the order on December 17, 2021 following an ex parte application by a civil society organisation, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), which alleged irregularities in the process of awarding the contract.

Mr Okorowo, after hearing the plaintiff’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, issued, among others, an order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd defendant (BPP) from appointing the 4th and 5th defendants (Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited) as the operators of the ICTN in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The judge similarly issued another order of interim injunction restraining BPP “from giving further approvals and waivers to the 1st defendant (Minister of Transport) in the planned appointment of the 4th and 5th defendants (the two firms) as the operators of the ITCN.

He also issued a simar order restraining Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited or their agents “from parading themselves or functioning as the operators of the ICTN.

Lastly, the judge ordered all the five defendants to suspend “taking any ffurther steps towards nominating any company or entity to be operators of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The judge then adjourned till January 12 for the hearing of the plaintiff’s motion on notice.

Why we filed suit-CASER

In a statement announcing the court order, on Monday, the Executive Director of CASER, Frank Tietie, a lawyer,
said the group filed the suit to challenge “the ongoing process of appointing an implementing agent for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria” due to “the manner the process is being carried out by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi”.

“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 sea ports,” the statement added.

It said the organisation was concerned that “Nigeria loses huge billions of dollars following the improper tracking of cargo exports and imports.”

The overall goal of the case, according to Mr Tietie, “is to simply ensure compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) with international best practices and standards in procurement of such security-sensitive services.”

Background

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Amaechi approved the national security-sensitive maritime contract to a medical company in a process the BPP said was “embarrassing and illegal.”

The International Cargo Tracking Note is an electronic cargo verification system that monitors the shipments of seaborne cargoes and enables a real-time generation of vital data on ships and cargo traffic in and out of Nigeria.

To get the contract going, Mr Amaechi obtained an anticipatory approval for the work from President Buhari. Although the president lacks the fiat to sideline procurement laws, the BPP claimed the presidential endorsement forced its hand on the deal.

Before approaching the president, Mr Amaechi had brushed aside the BPP’s order that companies given the contracts be selected through an international competitive bidding. Mr Buhari approved his request to have the contract to Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited.

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