Details have emerged how a powerful Cabal in the Presidency pressurized the Ministry of Transport to act beyond its competence and award the multi-billion Naira Cargo-Tracking Contract to a Belgium-based company, Antaser, which investigations show is not registered in Nigeria and is currently in court with the Ghana Port Authority ( SUIT NO. CM/CGS/0532/18) over a similar contract.
It was gathered that that the CTN contract was awarded on Wednesday last week.
The award of the contract to the company based in Antwerp Belgium, eighteen years after the Federal Government first mulled the idea, was however done in reckless disregard to the legal opinion of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN, who had in a letter to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), dated 11th of January 2022, stated the position of the Nigerian law to the effect that only the Federal Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, have the competence to implement the CTN, which includes the award of contracts , in pursuance thereof.
In the letter seen by CHECKPOINTCHARLEY, Mr. Malami made it clear that “only the Federal Ministry of Petroleum has the mandate to implement Crude Oil Services.” And that the Federal Ministry of Finance has the mandate for Container Cargo Tracking.
Needless to mention that the Nigeria Custom Services is the agency responsible for all imports and exports and the agency is under Federal ministry of Finance, due to its revenue generation responsibility.
However, it has turned out that the CTN scheme, which was meant to revolutionize tracking and monitoring of cargoes destined for Nigerian seaports, has been hijacked by members of the Cabal in the Presidency, using four proxy companies, possibly as their retirement benefits, at the expense of the general good.
A source said the Cabal, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, pushed for the award of the contract, in damnation of the legal advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation, against a subsisting court order, and against an executive order of President Buhari, who had on May 10th, 2021 directed the Federal Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to commence the immediate implementation of the said Advanced Cargo Declaration (ACD)/Cargo Tracking Note.
Recall that following a suit in Sept. 2022 by Donnington, through its lawyer, Dr. Reuben Atabo (SAN), the Federal High Court Abuja had issued an injunction, restraining the award of the CTN contract.
The judge had ordered the maintenance of the status-quo, pending the determination of the substantive matter.
The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transportation were listed as defendants in the matter.
Donnington Ltd had approached the court for protection and remedies when it sensed foul-play by some government officials.
The plaintiffs claimed in the case that, based on President Buhari’s approval of its proposal, it had committed funds to procure equipment, engage staff and foreign partners, but the defendants were planning to now substitute it with other companies.
The Petroleum and Finance ministries jointly and separately submitted a request to BPP to be granted a certificate of no objection to retain the services of Messr. Donnington Nig and her technical partner Vortexa UK.
On 1st March 2022, BPP replied to the request for no objection and raised a few observations from the submission by the Petroluem ministry, requesting for additional documentation from Donnington Nigeria Limited. It is gathered that the additional documents demanded were sent to BPP on the 21st March 2022.
“From that point the Cabal forcefully came in and coerced the BPP, to seek further clarification from the presidency,” a source in the Petroleum ministry said. “Notwithstanding the earlier clarification and validation by the Attorney-General.”
He added that the same people have now hoodwinked the president to give the Transport Ministry the green-light to award the such a sensitive security contract to Antraser, in total disregard of the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
It must however be noted that the Buhari government has a history of disrespecting court orders.
Messages sent to the Attorney-General’s office with respect to the new development, was yet to answered as at the time of filing this report.
However, it is expected that the AGF’s office will take legal steps to annul this flagrant breach of the law and usurpation of power by the Cabal.
Meanwhile the Chief of Staff to the Transport Minister, Hon. Muazu Sambo shunned our inquiry on the matter.