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Court stops Amaechi, Malami, BPP from awarding cargo tracking system contract

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered relevant officials and agency of the federal government to stop the plan to award a sensitive international cargo tracking system contract to two firms – Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited.

The court order restrained all five defendants sued in the suit – the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the two firms – from taking any further steps concerning the appointment of an operator for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN)

D.U. Okorowo, the judge, issued the order on December 17, 2021 following an ex parte application by a civil society organisation, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), which alleged irregularities in the process of awarding the contract.

Mr Okorowo, after hearing the plaintiff’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, issued, among others, an order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd defendant (BPP) from appointing the 4th and 5th defendants (Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited) as the operators of the ICTN in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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The judge similarly issued another order of interim injunction restraining BPP “from giving further approvals and waivers to the 1st defendant (Minister of Transport) in the planned appointment of the 4th and 5th defendants (the two firms) as the operators of the ITCN.

He also issued a simar order restraining Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited or their agents “from parading themselves or functioning as the operators of the ICTN.

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Lastly, the judge ordered all the five defendants to suspend “taking any ffurther steps towards nominating any company or entity to be operators of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The judge then adjourned till January 12 for the hearing of the plaintiff’s motion on notice.
Why we filed suit-CASER

In a statement announcing the court order, on Monday, the Executive Director of CASER, Frank Tietie, a lawyer,
said the group filed the suit to challenge “the ongoing process of appointing an implementing agent for the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) in Nigeria” due to “the manner the process is being carried out by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi”.

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“CASER instituted the case out of serious concern for Nigeria’s internal security following the massive inflow of small arms and light weapons (SALW) through Nigerian sea ports,” the statement added.

It said the organisation was concerned that “Nigeria loses huge billions of dollars following the improper tracking of cargo exports and imports.”

The overall goal of the case, according to Mr Tietie, “is to simply ensure compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) with international best practices and standards in procurement of such security-sensitive services.”
Background

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Amaechi approved the national security-sensitive maritime contract to a medical company in a process the BPP said was “embarrassing and illegal.”

The International Cargo Tracking Note is an electronic cargo verification system that monitors the shipments of seaborne cargoes and enables a real-time generation of vital data on ships and cargo traffic in and out of Nigeria.

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To get the contract going, Mr Amaechi obtained an anticipatory approval for the work from President Buhari. Although the president lacks the fiat to sideline procurement

laws, the BPP claimed the presidential endorsement forced its hand on the deal.

Before approaching the president, Mr Amaechi had brushed aside the BPP’s order that companies given the contracts be selected through an international competitive bidding. Mr Buhari approved his request to have the contract to Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited.

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EFCC to go after Jaiz Bank over disgraced fmr AGF alleged fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, may soon summon Hassan Usman, the managing director of Jaiz Bank Plc, and other senior members of the Islamic bank for questioning regarding their alleged roles in the N109 billion that Ahmed Idris, the disgraced former Accountant General of the Federation, is accused of stealing, according to sources in the commission.

Idris, who is currently facing charges from the EFCC along with two other conspirators, Godfrey Olusegun Akindele and Mohammed Kudu, allegedly stole the enormous sums of money by hacking into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and smuggled away billions of naira that belonged to the government.

The group was last week charged before Justice A. O. Adeyemi Ajayi of the Maitama, Abuja-based Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Investigative work by the EFCC revealed that the former Accountant General had opened bank accounts with an Islamic bank and utilized those accounts to refine his money-laundering techniques.

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Investigations indicated that the bank was used to launder a sizable amount of money to high government officials at the federal and state levels, while the magazine is unable to determine the extent of some bank employees’ involvement in the crime.

According to information obtained by The Source Magazine, the commission is currently working to uncover any shady dealings the former AGoF may have had with some Islamic bank executives, which may have “enabled him to use the bank to launder public monies.” The bank must respond to important queries, according to an EFCC source.

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“The Accountant General and his accomplices must have chosen Jaiz bank, in order not to draw any suspicion from the public and banking regulators. But it’s now obvious that there’s no hidden place for the bank and greedy government officials who committed the fraud. The EFCC will get to the bottom of the fraud and expose those involved” another EFCC top official said on Tuesday.

“There is a need to question more top officials of the bank apart from the chief executive who must be privy to how and when huge sums of money were moved without deeming it fit to alert constituted authority in the country and EFCC. There’s no way huge sums will be moved without the MD’s knowledge, and we are quite sure these officials are not unaware of the money laundering law,” the official said.

The EFCC claimed that Idris utilized a substantial portion of the stolen money to launch businesses and buy real estate in Kano, where he is from, as well as Abuja and other places.

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These properties include, among others, the Kano City Mall, the Gezawa Exchange Limited, and the Gezawa Integrated Farms.

A portion of the earnings from the theft were also utilized by the disgraced former accountant general to bribe important members of the state and federal governments, including former governor Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara state, who was at the time the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

During the trial last week, an EFCC prosecution witness Hayatu Ahmed, said Idris has accounts with Jaiz Bank which he used to make payments to individuals and companies, including a N280 million he paid into “Gezawa Commodity Market with Jaiz Bank.”

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Additionally, it was discovered from EFCC sources that the bank was used in a large number of transactions that the disgraced Idris conducted with bureau de change. Several bureau de change in Kano and Abuja were paid via the bank, according to credible proof. The source stated that the dollar equivalent was then collected in cash and afterwards paid directly to people who had benefited from the crime.

Giving an overview of the fraud last week, the EFCC witness claimed that three groups shared the stolen money, including members of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), including one of its commissioners, Peace Akomas, a former deputy governor of the Abia State who is accused of collecting N18.8 billion.

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“The second group is the AGF group, and it got a total sum of N18.01 billion.

“The third group, the Commissioners of Finance in the nine oil producing states, received N21.4 billion. The money was withdrawn by Akindele, converted to US dollars, and handed over to Akomas on behalf of the group.

“The fourth group is called the Yari group. This group received N17.15 billion. The entirety of the sum was transferred to the account of Fimex Professional Services on the instruction of the representative of this group – Abdul’Aziz Yari, former Zamfara state governor.

“The remaining N8.9 billion was retained by the second defendant. Furthermore, N4.29 billion was converted to US dollars by Akindele as appreciation for the consultancy contract, and the balance of N4.6 billion was given to Akindele,” the EFCC witness said in court.

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NDLEA release photos of Chris Nzewi, owner of Meth laboratory uncovered in VGC Lagos state

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has confirmed the arrest of the owner of a meth laboratory that was being operated by one Chris Nwezi in the Victoria Garden City estate in Lagos State.

Over the weekend, Freelanews reported how men of the anti-drug agency carried out a sting operation in the estate and arrested the man who ran the laboratory where the toxic substance was produced.

Confirming this development to newsmen today August 2, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said two METH laboratories have so far been uncovered.

“The first one, located in Victoria Garden City (VGC) Estate of Lekki, Lagos, is owned by a baron, Chris Emeka Nzewi.

“The laboratory in Lagos was set up inside the Boys Quarter building of a four-bedroom duplex. From there, we recovered a total of 258.74 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and various precursor chemicals used for the production of the toxic drug. The complete paraphernalia of laboratory equipment such as gas cylinders, giant gas burners, industrial face masks, industrial gloves, tubes and flat-bottomed conical flasks, among others were also found,” he said.

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He said the owner of the laboratory in VGC, for instance, was producing this highly unstable and toxic drug in a house where he lived with his family.

”This speaks volumes about his insensitivity to the consequences of exposing his family, which includes a three-month old baby, to the danger of hazardous chemicals. If that is the case, that is an indication that public health was of no concern to him.

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In this particular case, aside from the laboratory being close to the kitchen of the main house, the waste from the laboratory was channelled into the septic tank and soakaway in the compound, with a high risk of contamination of the water table of the entire neighbourhood.

On average, the lab produced 50 kilos of methamphetamine every week with plans underway to increase the capacity of production to at least 100kg per week.”

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Rivers LG Sets Up Own Security Outfit

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The Emohua local government council in Rivers State, has set up a security outfit, Emohua Vigilante Service (EMOVIS), which which will work with the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to ensure peace and security.

Members of the security outfit, who were nominated by the various communities in the local government area, however, will not bear any form of arms.

Speaking at the inauguration of EMOVIS as well as the commissioning of its operational headquarters at Emohua on Wednesday, the local government chairman, Dr. Chidi Julius Lloyd, said members of the outfit were profiled by the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).

Lloyd, who stated that the effort was aimed at assisting in providing intelligence to the Police and other security agencies, said members of the outfit will work in their respective communities.

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He further stated that the local government council decided to form its own security outfit after a vigilante group, popularly known as OSPAC, which was adopted by most of the communities in the area, failed.

The LGA chairman said: “On assumption of duty in June 2021, we observed to our chagrin that the security situation in the local government area needed urgent intervention in order to avoid a total relapse to anarchy.

“The existing contraption, as it then was, OSPAC, which was initially designed to cut the excesses of cultism in the area, later became a major source of challenge.

“There were several reports of breaches of our security in the same local government area, where OSPAC had been adopted to bring about peace and tranquility.

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“It was observed that the few communities that didn’t have OSPAC were enjoying relative peace than those that had OSPAC, because they adopted their own local policing.”

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