Hearing begins in suit against Calabar channel dredging contract

An activist, Mr Sam Nmeje, has prayed the Federal High Court in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, to declare as illegal the contract awarded for the capital dredging of the Calabar channel.

He said the contract process breached Section 16 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and is therefore unlawful.

President Goodluck Jonathan, Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and Calabar Channel Management Limited (CCML) are the respondents.

The plaintiff said BPP allegedly cancelled a bidding process midway in 2010 “without stating any reasons for doing so”.

He said another bidding process was held, and CCML, which allegedly was not in existence in 2010, bidded for and won the contract.

“I know as a fact that the sixth defendant, CCML lacks the necessary capacity and experience to execute contracts of such magnitude and economic importance to the Federation of Nigeria.

“It was incorporated solely for the purpose of unlawfully procuring the Capital Dredging of the Calabar Channel, as is apparent from its objects in its memorandum and articles of association,” the plaintiff said.

The plaintiff sought an order of injunction restraining the defendants from releasing any funds to the contractor for the project’s execution.

He also sought to prohibit the Calabar Channel Management Limited from mobilising workers to the site, carrying out any work or executing the “unlawfully procured contract”.

Nmeja is also seeking an order of mandatory injunction directing NPA to immediately revoke the contract award to CCML for allegedly being procured contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The suit, before Justice Obilo Emmanuel, was heard yesterday.

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