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Chinese firm sues Amaechi, Malami over alleged rail contract inflation scam

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A Chinese firm, Hebbelyixin Fastener Company Limited, alongside a consortium of companies in Nigeria, Duluidas Nigeria Limited, Duliz Dredging and Construction Limited and Consortium of Duluidas Nigeria Limited, have sued the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN), over an alleged rail contract inflation scam.

In the case filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, the plaintiffs are alleging that Amaechi and Malami allegedly awarded a 190km rail line construction worth N91.5 billion to another Chinese firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), without due process.

In the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1426/2021, which also listed the CCECC as co-defendants, the plaintiffs are praying the court for an injunction restraining all the defendants from “awarding or purporting to award the contract to the CCECC firm or any third party on the basis of the allegedly flawed bidding process.”

In the writ of summons issued by their lead counsel, James Okoh, the plaintiffs are asking the Court to cancel the “No Objection letter issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in favour of CCECC for award of the N91.5 billion rail line contract, in breach of procurement laws, and re-issue same in their favour.”

According to the plaintiffs, the disputed contract was for reconstruction of narrow gauge track from Minna, in Niger State to Baro, with extension to Baro River Port, to be completed within 36 months.

READ ALSO: Funds left behind by Jonathan not enough to run Nigeria for three weeks – Amaechi

The plaintiffs claimed to have successfully bidded for the same contract and quoted a lesser amount of N76.7 billion for the execution of the project, but were shortchanged by the two ministers in favour of CCECC at the inflated rate, alleging bias against them by the minister and undue favouritism in favour of the CCECC.

The writ of summons also alleged that the Amaechi had, on May 19, 2021, wrote the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), for a certificate of no objection in favour of CCECC in the sum of N91, 580, 101, 710 and that by a letter of June 9, 2021, the BPP rejected the Minister’s request on the claim that such certificate can only be issued to them on the basis of their quotation of N76.7b to execute the job.

“Along the line, other bidding processes were manipulated and compromised, leading to receipt of an acceptance letter by the NRC from CCECC for the Minister to be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), for the purpose of the award of the contract,” it noted.

The plaintiffs prayed the court to make a declaration that the action of the Ministers and their agents in interfering with due process of the bid process for the contract damaged the integrity of the process of law.

“In the alternative, we are seeking an order setting aside any purported award on the basis of the alleged flawed and heavily compromised bid process by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) with concurrence of other defendants

“We are also seeking an order restraining the Minister of Transportation or any of his agents from presenting the CCECC to Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the purpose of awarding the contract,” it added

After hearing the presentation from the plaintiffs, the presiding judge of the court, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, fixed February 17, 2022 for hearing of the matter.

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