The Federal High court sitting in Abuja and presided by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Friday dismissed a firm’s suit seeking to monitor how $300 million dollars recovered from the late former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha was used by the Federal Government.
The suit was filed by PPP Advisories, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Issa Shuaib who claimed they were unlawfully bypassed in the bidding process.
Justice Ekwo said in judgement on Friday that the suit was statute barred as it was filed by the plaintiffs outside the three months permitted by law on such matters.
The judge also held that the three plaintiffs failed to establish their legal entity and had tendered worthless documents in support of their case.
Justice Ekwo while delivering judgment in the suit held that all public documents tendered by the plaintiffs were worthless because they ran foul of sections 102, 103, 104 and 105 of Evidence Act 2011.
The Judge held that the plaintiffs failed to certify the public documents as required by law and that the failure to certify them was fatal to the case as they have become inadmissible in law.
Justice Ekwo said the documents are worthless because no probative value could be ascribed to them and expunged them from the court records.
The Federal Government had in the year 2020 upon the repatriation of the $300 million to Nigeria from the United Kingdom announced that the money would be used to fund the completion of the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja – Kano dualisation and the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway.
Before the repatriation, the federal government of Nigeria had entered a tripartite agreement with the United States government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that specified that the $300 million recovered Abacha loot would be used as part of the funding for the completion of the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja – Kano dualisation and the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway.
Flowing from the agreement, the Federal Government sent out invitations for consultants to submit proposals to the Federal Ministry of Justice, whereupon, the claimant PPP Advisories Consortium was among the 4 pre-qualified firms among the 17 firms that responded to the request for pre-qualification.
After the evaluation of the financial proposals of the 4 pre-qualified consultants, the claimants- PPP Advisories Consortium was disqualified on alleged deficiencies in the claims submitted for qualifications.
The disqualification was conveyed to the plaintiffs in a federal government letter of July 28, 2020.
Dissatisfied with the outcome, the claimants – PPP Advisories; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Issa Shuaibu & Co (PPP Advisories Consortium) – approached the federal high court challenging the legality or otherwise of the Federal Government decision.
In their suit taken by writ of summons and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1449/2020 and dated November 3, 2020, they joined Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF); the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General of the Federation,’ Mr Dayo Apata (SAN), who was the then Chairman Ministerial Tenders Board and the Bureau of Public Procurement as defendants.
The claimants through their counsel, Dr. Daniel Bwala, urged the court to make an order setting aside the decision of the procurement panel adjudging its Technical and Financial proposal as non-responsive.
They equally urged the court to make an order directing the defendants to issue a letter declaring them as the winner of the bid and to invite them for negotiation, having achieved the highest score and therefore emerged the winner of the bid.
However, in his judgment, Justice Ekwo disagreed with the plaintiffs that their processes were competent. Rather he agreed with the defendants that the suit had become statute barred having been instituted outside the three months stipulated by law.
The Judge rejected all the public documents tendered by the plaintiffs to establish the case because they were not certified as required by law.
Justice Ekwo also held that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they were legally registered as required by law.
“I have said that the court in deciding the case will look into all issues raised and that the case of the plaintiffs must succeed on its own merit and not on the weakness or failure of the defendants.
“I can safely say at this point that I am unable to ascribe probative value to any of the documents tendered by the plaintiffs to establish this case.
“I find no merit in this case and for this reason this suit is liable to be dismissed and I hereby dismiss it accordingly”, Justice Ekwo ruled.