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FOI: Court Grants Coalition Leave to Sue PHCN over Contract Details

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted leave to the Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition to apply for an order to compel the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to disclose to it details of a World Bank-supported contract for the supply and installation of High Voltage Distribution systems in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan.

Justice A.F.A Ademola granted the Coalition leave following a suit instituted on September 21, 2012 on its behalf by one of its members, the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), which is the National Convenor of the Coalition monitoring the award and implementation of the contract for the Federal Government project funded with a credit facility obtained from the World Bank.

Other members of the coalition include the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), the Centre for Organizational and Professional Ethics (COPE-AFRICA) and the Initiative for Environmental and Health Society (IFEHS).

The Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition is a division of the West African Contract Monitoring Coalition which is being regionally coordinated by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Commission (GACC), and is implementing a project titled “Multi-stakeholder Engagement for Effective Public Procurement Process in Nigeria.

In a motion ex parte filed by its lawyer, Mr. Godwin N. Chigbu, the Coalition sought an order granting it leave to apply for the prerogative order of mandamus to compel PHCN, its General Manager in the Project Management Unit, Mr. B.C. Nwozor; and the Attorney-General of the Federation to furnish the coalition with copies of procurement documents and information relating to Bid No. NGP-D2 for the supply of 300 units of 11 KV, 500A On-Load Sectionalizers for installation at the High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) networks at Karu in Abuja; at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), in Ogba and in Agege, all in Lagos as well as Challenge in Ibadan.

Specifically, the Coalition asked the court to compel the respondents to disclose to it the following documents and information:

  • PHCN’s procurement plan for the contract
  • The report of the needs assessment that preceded the contract
  • Documentation on the design and specification requirements
  • Documentation on the scope of the procurement
  • Bidding documents issued to all bidders for the procurement
  • A list of all the contractors that submitted bids for the procurement
  • A copy of bid evaluation report of the technical sub-committee of the Tenders’ Board for the procurement
  • Minutes of the Tenders’ Board meeting approving the winning bids
  • Copies of the letters of award of the contract and final contract award documents for the procurement
  • Documentation on the current status of the procurement exercise
  • Documents showing the contract sum, conditions of the contract and payment terms and schedule; and
  • The names and addresses of all distribution companies on whose behalf the procurement was undertaken and which will subsequently be responsible for the utilization and management of the goods and works procured

In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, Ms Seember Nyager, Procurement Administrator at the PPDC, explained that the Federal Government obtained the credit facility from the World Bank/International Development Agency (IDA) towards the improvement of the Nigerian Electricity and Gas Project.

She said PHCN published Invitation for Bid in several national newspapers, including page 41 of The Guardian of May 6, 2011 calling for bidders to undertake the supply and installation of the equipment.

Ms Nyager deposed that the contracts had been awarded and that on August 30 and 31, the coalition applied to both the PHCN and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc, one of the beneficiaries of the project, for the contract documents and information but that PHCN refused to furnish the coalition with the information while the Abuja Distribution Company replied on September 5, 2012 stating that it was the PHCN that carried out the procurement and had all the relevant documents and information.

After listening to Mr. Chigbu’s arguments in support of the Motion Ex parte, Justice Ademola granted the coalition’s application for leave to apply for the order of mandamus.

Further hearing in the suit has been fixed for November 20, 2012.

 

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