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Court may commit Amaechi to prison for contempt over ICTN contract

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation
Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation,  Rotimi Amaechi, risks being committed to prison, fine or suffers both penalties if he is convicted of contempt of court for which proceeding has commenced.
Ameachi stirred the hornet’s nest when he was alleged to have wilfully disobeyed the court order on the controversial award of International Cargo Tracking Note(ICTN).
As a result, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday directed the initiation of contempt proceedings against the Minister, following complaints that he flouted an earlier order made by the court.
Justice Donatus Okorowo gave the directive after being informed that Amaechi allegedly violated an order for the maintenance of status quo issued on January 22, 2022, in a suit filed by a civil group, the Incorporated Trustees of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), challenging Amaechi’s handling of the process of appointing operators of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria.

In the suit, CASER alleged among others, that Amaechi has manipulated the appointment process to the benefit of two local and inexperienced firms – Medtech Scientific Ltd and Rozi International Nigeria Ltd.

Listed with Amaechi as defendants in the suit are the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Medtech Ltd, and Rozi Ltd.

At the resumed hearing of the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1587/2021 on Wednesday, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) told the court that Amaechi defied the order for the maintenance of the status quo and continued with the appointment process and currently on the verge of completing the process of appointment.

“He (Amaechi) has taken fundamental steps on the subject matter of this suit, and we have documents to be placed before the court to establish that he has ignored the order of the court completely.

“In order to protect the sanctity of this honourable court, we have issued Form 48 against the Minister of Transportation.
“With the commencement of this committal process, which takes precedence over any other matter, we urge this court to suspend further proceedings in the substantive suit.” the lawyer to the plaintiff, Mustapha,  declared.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) further disclosed that having issued Form 48 on the Minister, he was in the process of filing a motion on notice to commit the minister to prison.

In response, Amaechi’s lawyer, Omosanya Popoola admitted receiving a letter notifying him of the issuance of Form 48 on his client.

Popoola said his client is a law-abiding citizen and he was yet to be personally served with Form 48.

Lawyer to BPP, Akin Olujinmi (SAN) said his client has also not been served with the Form 48 personally as required by law.

Olujinmi argued that there was no motion for committal before the court, adding that the plaintiff’s lawyer has to file an affidavit to establish his allegations that the defendants, including Amaechi, had violated the court’s order.

The lawyer to the AGF, Mohammed Sheriff, agreed with the submissions by lawyers to Amaechi and BPP that proceedings in the main suit should not be halted.

Justice Okorowo agreed to suspend proceedings in the main suit, noting that: “Once the issue of contempt is raised, the court must suspend proceedings.

“The court will not close its eyes when being told that its orders are being flouted.

“We have to suspend proceedings for the court to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.”

The judge then directed the plaintiff’s lawyer to proceed to file a motion on notice with an affidavit to establish the facts of the alleged violation of the court’s orders, which must be filed and served before the next adjourned date.

The court has scheduled a ruling for May 9 on the application filed by a firm, Antaser Nigeria Limited to be made a party in the suit.

Antaser’s lawyer, James Ogwu Onoja (SAN) told the court that his client was a necessary party in the case because it sought to participate in the bidding process but was unlawfully excluded.

The plaintiff in the suit, CASER, stated, in an affidavit supporting the substantive suit, that the purported procurement process, leading to the appointment of the fourth and fifth defendants (Medtech and Rozi) as companies providing ICTN services shows that it was riddled with non-compliance with the known procurement procedures as stipulated in the law.

The plaintiff claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari “was misguided in granting an anticipatory approval for a direct appointment of the fourth and fifth defendants’ companies.

“The approval by Mr. President cannot waive the procurement process stipulated under the Public Procurement Act.

“The steps of the first and second defendants (Transport Minister and BPP) by opting for selective bidding and or direct procurement method amount to a willful violation of due process and a desperate design to circumvent the provisions of the Procurement Act by abandoning the demands of fairness, competitiveness, accountability, and transparency as envisaged by the Act.

“The failure of the relevant agencies to follow due process and appoint qualified companies contributed immensely to the failure of the ICTN project in the year 2010 and 2015.

“The appointment of the fourth and fifth defendants without due process will further worsen the already threatened security and fragile economy of this country.”

The plaintiff is praying the court for among others: A declaration that in view of the mandatory provisions of sections 40(1), 24 & 25 of the Public Procurement Act 2007, it is ultra vires the powers of the 1st defendant to seek Mr. President’s anticipatory approval for due process “no objection” from the 2nd defendant for the appointment of the 4th defendant as technical partners to the 5th defendant to provide international cargo tracking note in the country.

An order nullifying the entire process of appointing the 4th and 5th defendant as operator of the international cargo tracking note in the country.

An order setting aside the due process ‘no objection’ issued by the 2nd defendant to the 1st defendant, for the restricted selection of the 4th and 5th defendants.

An order of this honourable court stopping the proposed and imminent appointment of the 4th and 5th defendants as the operators of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria in view of the clear breach of the provision of Public Procurement Act, 2007.

An order of mandamus directing the first and second defendants to conduct international competitive bidding to ensure the proper selection of the service provider for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria.

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Freight Monitor

President Buhari to commission multi-billion naira Dala Inland dry port Monday –Ahmad Rabiu

The Eyewitness reporter
All is set for the commissioning of the Dala International inland dry port on Monday 31st January 2023 by President Muhammad Buhari at Zawachiki in Kumbotso local government area of Kano state.
The Managing Director of the international inland dry port Ahmad Rabiu, stated this while addressing newsmen on the preparation for the inauguration of the port at its headquarters in Kano.
Ahmad Rabiu, who was joined by the chairman of the inland dry port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro, said its the first international inland dry port where cargoes will go anywhere in the world from Kano state without follow up to any sea ports across Nigeria.
Ahmad Rabiu told newsmen that the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari has given all the support required for the take-up, noting that they have met the requirement on infrastructure and other critical amenities.
The MD said the stacking area has the capacity of containing 20 thousand units of containers before moving anywhere at any time, noting that the area covers six hectares of land and the management is willing to add more.
According to Ahmad Rabiu, all the requirements needed for clearance by businessmen, and customs duty will be done right from Kano without follow-up to any seaport in Nigeria.
On his part, the chairman of Dala Inland Dry Port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro said the management of the port is prepared technically, and physically with interested partners and is going to boost businesses in Kano, Nigeria and Africa in general and urged members of the press to partner with the management in ensuring efficiency, emphasizing that the place is not a monument but a business venture.
The chairman said Dala Inland Dry Port is now a solution to the problems brought about by the seaports and they will introduce cargo tracking and door-to-door delivery of goods and services.
He said the success of the inland dry port is a joint venture between the state government, the business community, regulatory agencies and the Federal Government of Nigeria and to make business in Kano and its neighborhood more competitive.
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN rejects re-appointment bid of ousted Sam Nwakohu

Ousted CRFFN Registrar, Nwakohu
— appoints Uromta as Acting Registrar
—-shops for substantive Registrar.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Council for the Registration of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) has thrown out the re-election bid of the outgoing Registrar of the Council, Sam Nwakohu.
In an emergency meeting of the council Thursday at its Abuja liaison office, the Council appointed Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, the Director of Regulations and Enforcement, as an acting Registrar pending the time a substantive registrar will be appointed.
The decision of the council to reject the reelection bid of the ousted Registrar was based on the recommendations of its ad hoc committee to look into the request of Nwakohu for a second term tenure.
The outgoing registrar, last year, at the December meeting of the council, submitted a letter, requesting to be considered for a second term shot at the lucrative position.
Consequently, the Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Efeanyi Isikaku, to look into the request of Nwakohu and submit its report in two weeks.
“Following the completion of its assignment and submission of its report, the council, therefore, convened today (Thursday)in Abuja to deliberate on the next line of action to be taken in respect of the committee’s recommendations.
” The AdHoc committee made important recommendations with reference to the provisions of Public Service Rules as well as the council’s Act.
“The committee however, recommended that in order to avoid a vacuum after the expiration of the Registrar’s tenure, the council shall start making arrangements for a handover of the Registrar’s office to the most senior management staff of the council.
“Similarly, the committee also recommended that the Appointment Promotion and Discipline committee of the council be directed to start making preparations for reappointment or appointment of substantive Registrar”  Muftahu Ya’u, the chairman Committee on Media and Publicity of the governing council,  declared in a statement he sent to our reporter.
 “Finally, the council’s chairman soon after the adoption, approval, and ratification of the committee’s recommendations by members of the council directed the followings:
that arrangement for the Registrar’s handover to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta  Director, Regulations and Enforcement on 31st of January 2023.
“That committee on Appointment Promotion and Discipline go ahead to start preparations for reappointment/appointment of a new Registrar” the head of media and publicity of the council concluded.
It could be recalled that soon after Nwakohu made his ambition known to succeed himself as the Registrar of the council, he went on a lobbying spree, trying to woo the council members to buy into his ambition.
But sources close to the council whispered to our reporter that the second term bid of Nwakohu was dead on arrival due to lots of baggage he carries.
“There was no way he could have succeeded in his obnoxious bid to succeed himself.
Firstly, it was a general consensus among the freight forwarding confraternity that Nwakohu failed woefully as the registrar.
“He is incompetent, arrogant and someone not ready to learn,” a highly placed source said.
“Also, several allegations of financial sleaze against him have not been cleared.
“Similarly, the council members were not happy at the way Nwakohu handled the purchase of the CRFFN Abuja liaison office which cost they felt was inflated.
“All these and other uncharitable behavior of the outgoing registrar are enough reasons not to reappoint him as the Council registrar” the source claimed.
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Headlines

Transportation ministry inaugurates project committee for Ondo, Benin seaports

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, has inaugurated
a Project Steering Committee for the proposed Ondo Deep & Benin Seaports.
Dr. Magdalene Ajani, while inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the Nigerian government at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja Wednesday,  stated that the Committee is saddled with providing guidance and direction on the projects.
She also charged the members of the committee to also facilitate necessary permits, clearance & approvals for the projects.
The permanent secretary said it is also the responsibility of the committee to prepare the transaction for the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, to obtain the approval of tte Federal Executive Council.
She charged them to hit the ground running immediately.
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