The Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled on Wednesday, that it would give an accelerated hearing to a suit challenging the appointment of a consultant to monitor the spending of the $311million repatriated loot of the late former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
The suit filed by PPP Advisories Consortium, which claims to be better qualified as the monitoring consultant, is challenging the choice of CLEEN Foundation to execute the contract.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, after issuing the order of accelerated hearing on Wednesday, also warned the parties not to do anything to frustrate the subject matter of the suit.
The defendants, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Akpata, (sued as Chairman Ministerial Tenders Board) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) have all filed their notice of preliminary objections challenging the jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate on the matter.
Oyin Koleosho, the lawyer who represented the AGF on Wednesday, moved an application for his court filings to be regularised.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Daniel Bwala, and Mohammed Nuhu who appeared for the BPP, did not oppose the application.
The application was granted by the judge.
Although Mr Bwala had intended to move his motion for an injunction against the defendants, the judge said it was better to give the matter an accelerated hearing.
With all the lawyers agreeing, the judge granted the order of accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter till February 16 and 17.
About $311million of Abacha loot was repatriated from the United States of America and Bailiwick of Jersey to Nigeria in February 2020.
Part of the conditionalities for the release of the fund to Nigeria was that the spending which must be on agreed public projects must be monitored by independent bodies.
In line with the tripartite agreement between the governments of Nigeria and the two foreign countries, the Federal Government earmarked the money for three landmark projects – the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Expressway, and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
It also set up a bidding process among 17 organisations which showed interest in monitoring the spending of the fund.
On December 24, 2020, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), announced that a civil society organisation, CLEEN Foundation, won the contract.
But one of the bidders, the PPP Advisories Consortium, through its suit filed before the outcome of the bidding process was made public, is challenging the selection process.
The claimant in the suit filed on November 3, 2020, maintained that it was denied the contract despite that it secured the highest combined technical and financial scores in the bidding exercise.
It contended that the Federal Government arbitrarily disqualified it and “recommended the firm that came 4th (CLEEN Foundation) as the preferred bidder to be awarded the contract”.
It added that the Federal Government chose to award the contract to CLEEN Foundation “which got the least combined technical and financial score among the four prequalified consultants.”
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