Justice Donatus Okorowo of the federal high court Abuja division has ordered the commencement of contempt proceedings against Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation.
The judge gave the order on Wednesday after a senior advocate of Nigeria, Abdulhakeem Mustapha told the court that the Minister failed to obey the court’s order.
On January 22, the court had ordered the minister to maintain the status quo in a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER).
What happened in court
Mr Mustapha, who is the plaintiff’s lawyer, told the court that Mr Amaechi had continued with the appointment process and is currently on the verge of completing the process of appointment.
- He told the court that he had documents before the court which establishes the fact that the minister ignored the court order.
- He said “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.”
- He said the form for the proceeding has been issued to the minister and he had filed a motion on notice to commit Mr Ameachi to prison.
- Omosanya Popoola, Amaechi’s lawyer who admitted to receiving the notification of the issuance of Form48, told the court that his client was yet to be served personally with the form.
- Akin Olujinmi SAN, counsel to Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) told the court that his own client too was not served with the Form as required by law.
- He contended that there was no motion for committal before the court. He said the plaintiff’s lawyer is required to file an affidavit to establish his allegations that the defendants violated the court order.
- Mohammed Sheriff, counsel to AGF, argued that the proceedings in the main suit should not be halted.
- In his ruling, Justice Okorowo accepted to suspend proceedings in the main suit. He noted noting that “Once the issue of contempt is raised, the court must suspend proceedings.”
- Speaking further he said, “We have to suspend proceedings for the court to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.”
- The judge then ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer to proceed with the filling of the motion with an affidavit to establish the facts of the alleged violation of court’s orders.
- He said the document must be filed and served before the next adjourned date.
- He adjourned the matter until May 9 for ruling on an application filed by Antaser Nigeria Limited.
- CASER had filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1587/2021 challenging the way Amaechi was handling the process of appointing operators of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria.
- They claimed that the minister manipulated the appointment process to the benefit of two local firms which are Medtech Scientific Ltd and Rozi International Nigeria Ltd.
- In an affidavit in support of the main suit, CASER alleged that the purported procurement process which led to the appointment of Medtech and Rozi ltd as companies providing ICTN services proves that the process was not in compliance with the known procurement procedures as stipulated in the law.
- They submitted that “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,”
- They sought among other reliefs, an order nullifying the entire process of the appointment of the 4th and 5th defendants as operators of the international cargo tracking note in Nigeria.
What you should know
At today’s hearing, Antaser Nigeria Limited which claimed it was unlawfully excluded from the bidding process sought to be joined as a party in the suit.
Other defendants in the suit include; the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Medtech Ltd and Rozi Ltd.