COURTROOM NEWS 19/06/2022
Court Stops FG From Taking Further Actions On e-Customs Project
A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained the Federal government from giving effect to the contract on the Customs Modernisation Project (also known as the e- Customs) allegedly signed on May 30, 2022.
The court also restrained the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), the Trade Modernisation Project Limited (TMPL), Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited (HTCNL) and the African Finance Corporation (AFC) from proceeding with the contract.
It also restrained the FG and its agents, acting through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) from retrospectively ratifying the decisions to concession the Custom Modernisation Project to TMPL, HTCNL and AFC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the orders while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by two firms – E-Customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited, and argued on Friday by their lawyer, Anone Usman.
Justice Ekwo said the restraining orders are to remain in force pending the determination of the main suit.
The judge granted the plaintiffs leave to serve relevant court documents on the AFC at its head office, located at Ikoyi, Lagos through a courier service.
Justice Ekwo adjourned till June 28 for hearing of the suit.
E-Customs and Bionica Technologies stated, in their statement of claim that they initiated the Custom Modernisation Project for the benefit of the NCS.
The plaintiffs claimed that after series of meetings and negotiations with some of the defendants, President Mohammudu Buhari granted anticipatory approval for the e- Customs project They stated that on September 2 , 2020, the Minister of Finance presented a memo with number EC2020/153 to the FEC and secured approval for them to be granted the concession to execute the project.
The plaintiffs added that, rather than involve them, the NCS allegedly unilaterally reviewed the approval granted by the FEC and imposed other conditions on them.
They added that despite their protest against sudden turn of events, the Comptroller General of the NCS stood his ground .
The plaintiffs stated that on they later learnt from the media that the NCS has executed a concession agreement with the TMP, HTC and AFC in total breach of the concession agreement already vetted by the Attorney General (AGF) and the Minister of Finance.
They queried the competence of TMPL, which they said was only incorporated in April this year
The plaintiffs want the court to among others, declare that the decisions by the federal government and its agent to enter into a concession agreement with TMPL, HTCL and AFC in respect of the e-Customs project is illegal, having been made in gross violation of Section 2 of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act 2005.
They also asked the court to declare that e-Customs HC Project limited is the approved and rightful concessionaire for the e-customs project as approved by Federal Executive Council at its meeting of September 2 , 2020 and in line with Section 2 of the Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission Act.
The plaintiffs are also seeking an order directing the Federal Government through the AGF, Finance Minister, IRCC and the NCS to consulate the e- Customs project with the 1st plaintiff, (E-Customs) as approved by FEC in its September 2020 meeting.
Defendants in the suit are the FG, the AGF, the Finance Minister, the IRCC, the NCS, TMPL, HTL, AFC and the Bergman Security Consultant and Supply Limited.