18 March 2014, Abuja – A Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from going ahead with the bid process for three National Integrated Power Plants (NIPPs) currently undergoing privatisation.
The order was granted at the instance of one of the companies bidding for the power plants, Ethiope Energy Limited.
After listening to Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), counsel to Ethiope Energy, Justice Abdul Kafarati, in a short ruling for an order of injunction, said: “It is apparent that the defendants have been served with the motion on notice and they failed to brief their counsel.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby granted against the 1st defendant from further going on with the bid process for the power stations.”
The BPE had commenced the bid process for Alaoji, Omoku and Gbarain power stations on March 7, 2014.
However, Ethiope Energy, which claimed it also submitted bids for the power stations, said it was excluded from the process.
Not satisfied with its exclusion, Ethiope approached the court for an order to stop the BPE from going ahead with the bid process.
In the statement of claim filed through Izinyon, Ethiope accused the Chairman of Due Diligence Committee, Mr. Atedo Peterside, of having an enormous influence on the BPE.
The company said Peterside had been having a running battle with its Chairman, Chief Johnson Arumemi, was hostile and has animosity for him.
Ethiope accused the BPE of bias, prejudice, conflict of interest, manipulation of the technical bid evaluation, due diligence exercise and that Peterside should have excused himself completely in the whole evaluation as it related to the plaintiff owing to the animosity and litigation he had instituted against its chairman.
Other defendants in the suit are the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Izinyon begged Justice Kafarati to stop the BPE from going ahead with the bid process, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
He argued that despite being put on notice, the defendants were going ahead with the process.
“Despite being put on notice, they went ahead to take initial steps to overreach the motion on notice.
“They said that there is no court order stopping them from going on with the bid process. They had ample time to file a brief concerning the case but they failed to do so because we served them on March 6, 2014, the last time the case came up. Till date, no process has been filed by them in this case.
“The court can make an interim order stopping them from taking further steps in the exercise because the case cannot be in court and the defendant will continue to take further steps that will destroy the res of this case,” he said.
However, the counsel to BPE, Mr. A.M. Kayode, who held the brief of Professor Taiwo Osinpitan (SAN), had told the court to order an accelerated hearing instead of an order of injunction.
“I urge the court to order an accelerated hearing in this case. I do not have instruction from my principal to give an undertaken. We are not aware that any step has been taken so far in this matter,” he argued.
But Justice Kafarati, in a short ruling for an order of injunction, granted the injunction stopping the bid process.
The case was adjourned until March 25, 2014.
– This Day