Justice I.E Ekwo of an Abuja Division of the Federal High court has on Friday dismissed a suit by PPP advisories consortium for lack of credible evidence to support their case.
In a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/ CS/1449/20, by PPP advisories, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Issa Shuaibu & Co. instituted against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Dayo Akpata and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
The claimants sought the court to declare as wrongful and void, their disqualification by defendants after satisfying the requirement of request for proposal and achieving the highest combined technical and financial score.
A Tripartite agreement dated February 4, 2020, was signed between the Nigerian government, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Government of the United States of America of certain forfeited assets (the Abacha’s loot funds).
The agreement requested for the appointment of consultants by the Nigerian government to monitor the implementation of the agreement and afterwards prescribe that the procurement process shall be in accordance with Nigerian laws.
The defendants (AGF and others) made a publication on March 4, 2020, in one of the National dailies requesting for the monitoring of the implementation of the Tripartite agreement for the sharing, transfer, disposition, repatriation and management of certain forfeited assets.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd claimants then entered into a joint venture agreement and formed PPP Advisories Consortium for the purpose of participating in the bid, of which PPP advisories was the lead Partner.
The three firms included PPP advisories, CISLAC and Issa Shuaibu & Co, the first to third claimants respectively.
On 28 May 2020, the technical bid opening was conducted and 17 firms submitted proposals including the claimants. On 23 June 2020, the procurement panel issued the claimants a letter of prequalification for the final stage, inviting them to attend the financial bid opening exercise.
After achieving the highest combined technical and financial score and emerging the winner of the bid, they were disqualified by the defendants because their lead partner was not a registered CSO.
Claims by claimants
According to the claimants originating summons, it was not stated in the eligibility requirements that if two or more consultants or entities enter into a joint venture agreement to form a consortium, the Lead Partner must be a Civil Society Organization (CSO).
They, therefore, sought among others;
“An order of the court directing the defendants to issue a letter declaring them the winning bidder and invite the claimants for negotiation and having achieved the highest combined technical and financial score therefore emerged the winner of the bid.”
“An order setting aside the decision of the procurement panel adjudging the claimants technical and financial proposal as non-responsive.”
They sought the court to award the sum of N50 million against defendants as cost of suit and a 10% interest on the judgement sum awarded per annum till the liquidation of the sum.
They also sought “A declaration that procuring entity can no longer disqualify the technical bid of the claimant after the prequalification of the technical and issuance of letter of invitation.”
What the judge said
Justice Ekwo who dismissed the case for lack of credible evidence held that, “This type of action is such that must succeed on its own strength and not on the weakness or failure of the defence.”
“I can safely say that at this point I am unable to ascribe probative to the documentary evidence in this case. My findings are that there is no credible evidence to support this case and I so hold.”
What you should know
On July 28, 2020, the defendants sent a letter of disqualification to PPP advisories consortium.
The First defendant (AGF) is the Chief Law Officer and adviser to the Federal Government of Nigeria on legal matters.
Mr Akpata the second defendant, is the Solicitor General of the federation.
The third defendant (BPP) is an agency of the government responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement and harmonization of existing Government policies.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics reported that, On April 4, 2020, the Attorney General’s Offices released a statement saying the government had recovered over $311 million of the alleged stolen funds by the country’s former military ruler, General Sani Abacha, from the United States and Jersey.