Abacha loot: Court dismisses suit against Malami, others

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit filed against the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami; and others, challenging the appointment of a consultant to monitor the spending of the $311 million repatriated loot of the former head of state, Sani Abacha.

Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that the suit lacked merit as there was no credible evidence to support the case.

“My finding, therefore, is that there is no credible evidence to support this case and it fails and I so hold. I make an order dismissing this case for lack of credible evidence. This is the judgement of this court,” he said.

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Issa Shuaibu and Co. (as PPP Advisories Consortium) had filed the suit against Mr Malami, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata; and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

In a writ of summon marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1449/2020, the claimants prayed the court to declare that their disqualification “by the defendants as communicated via a letter dated July 28, 2020, wherein the claimants Technical/Financial Bids submitted were not adjudged responsive due to the fact that the lead partner is not a registered Civil Society Organization (CSO) is wrongful, illegal and void.”

They averred that having satisfied the requirement of the request for proposal (RFP) in respect of the monitoring of the implementation of the tripartite agreement for the sharing, transfer, disposition, repatriation, and management of forfeited assets and the entire bidding process, they urged the court to declare that the procuring entity can no longer disqualify their technical bid after the pre-qualification of the technical and issuance of letter of invitation for financial bid opening.

They also sought a court declaration that their disqualification “based on a petition by one of the bidders without confronting the claimants with the petition is against the principle of fair hearing” among others.

The loot was repatriated from the United States of America and Bailiwick of Jersey to Nigeria in February 2020.

Part of the conditions for the release of the fund was that the spending which must be on agreed public projects must be monitored by independent bodies.

CLEEN Foundation won the contract to monitor the spending.

But one of the bidders, the PPP Advisories Consortium, went to court, claiming it was denied the contract despite securing the highest combined technical and financial scores in the bidding exercise.