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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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Headlines

Sambo commends Bello- Koko over NPA’s revenue increase 

 

— reiterates commitment to Lekki deep seaport project
The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation,  Engr Muazu Sambo, has lauded the efforts of Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), which he said have made the agency as one of the highest revenue-generating organs of government in the maritime industry.
Making the commendation recently during his visit to the agency, Sambo said he was impressed by the positioning of the port industry and the turn- around strides of the NPA MD in the agency which he said has caught the attention of the federal government.

The Minister, who was accompanied by the Hon. Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation Dr. Magdalene Ajani, some Directors and other top officials of the Ministry, stated that the Muhammadu Buhari -led administration was quite pleased with the reforms being implemented by the NPA Management in moving the nation forward, especially in view of the positive developments the sub-sector brought to the nation’s economy in line with international best practices.

“The Muhammadu Buhari- led administration was quite elated with Bello -Koko and his management team for their efforts at resuscitating and boosting the  economy,  especially the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) which has cushioned the  effects of the  resources of the nation that have nosedived as a result of  the fall in the prices of crude oil”

Sambo also solicited further cooperation from other relevant stakeholders, while assuring them and the maritime community of the readiness of the government to provide the enabling environment and support to make the industry thrive and attract foreign investments.

” MD,  I must state that Council is happy with you and your team. I  commend you and your management team for your efforts in moving the nation forward, especially in the area of an increase in revenue generation to government coffers.
” You have done well, but I call on you to further block all other grey areas .”

Engr. Sambo further reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that the Lekki Deep Seaport project commences operations as scheduled before the end of 2022.

According to him, the Lekki Deep Seaport and the recently approved Badagry Deep Sea Port would create an avenue for jobs for Nigerians,  encourage trade and investments and further boost revenue generation for the country.

The Minister further called on his host to ensure the full implementation of barge operations at the Ports to further facilitate the movement of goods from the seaports.

He said this would also be beneficial to the nation in the area of more jobs for those in the business of fabrication as well as reduce the cost of doing business by investors.

” We are ready to assist you in ensuring that the use of barges is fully implemented in your operations.
” We need to work the talk whilst we wait for the conclusion of other means of evacuation of boxes from the ports to cushion the effect of logistics through land transportation”

Earlier,  Bello Koko informed his guests of his management’s resolve to further position the nation’s sea ports in line with International best practices.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry in providing support to the Authority at all times, whilst soliciting assistance in other areas of operations.

The NPA MD assured the Minister and his team that the present management under his watch would ensure that operations of its services are further improved upon in view of the constant global competitiveness towards attaining a hub status within the sub-Sahara Africa.

Koko stated that NPA has begun the process of acquiring additional tug boats and pilot cutters for its officials to facilitate the operations.

This, he said, would further reduce vessel waiting time and attract investments to the ports.

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Headlines

Transport Minister collaborates with army, others to secure release of 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train attack victims

Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Muazu Sambo, has given vent to his vow to facilitate the release of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims when, in collaboration with other members of the seven-man Presidential  Action Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.
As a result of the deft negotiating skills of the members of the committee, the terrorists on Wednesday freed 23 remaining captives of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack.
This was disclosed by the Secretary of the Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee,  Professor Usman Yusuf.

Yusuf said that the hostages were released at about 4 pm on Wednesday.

He said that the committee took custody of the victims who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.

The terrorists, who attacked the AK9 Train in Kaduna, had before now released hostages piecemeal with the last release being on August 19, 2022.

“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCEFR is what made it all possible.
” Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation” declared Prof. Yusuf.
The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers.
The unprecedented attack had attracted international and national outrage.

Distraught family members had protested several times to demand the release of their loved ones.

Worried about the situation, the Nigeria Railway Corporation temporarily suspended activities, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims after he met their families.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, had said the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will not resume until all those kidnapped by bandits in March are rescued and reunited with their families.

A terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was on September 6, 2022, arrested in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria the next day.

The Department of State Services had alleged that Mamu, who negotiated between terrorists and families of kidnap victims, was part of an international terrorist network and used the cover of journalism to perpetrate his deeds.

Popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to whom Mamu is an aide, had faulted the arrest of Mamu.

Gumi had asked the security agency to charge Mamu to court if it had any evidence against him, rather than keeping him in custody.

But the DSS, in its reaction, said it would not be distracted by some skewed narratives in the media and requested to be left alone to concentrate on the ongoing investigations, the outcomes of which it said have remained ‘mind boggling’.

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EyeWitness Lens

Eyewitness Lens! NPA celebrates global Customer service week(Photo)

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(6 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(5 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4 th left) and
other senior officers of the NPA during the celebration of 2022 global
Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(5 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(6 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4th left) and
officers of the SERVICOM department during the celebration of 2022
global Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
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