Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered that further action on the Federal Government’s planned concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and cargo terminals be stayed, pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by a firm, Sifax Group of Companies Ltd to challenge the bidding process.
The suit filed by Sifax has the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; the Federal Government; Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; NAHCO Aviance Plc; Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; TAV Airports Holding Company and GMR Airport Ltd as 1st to 7th defendants.
The judge ordered parties to maintain the ‘status quo’, at the hearing of the case on Monday following an application by Sifax lawyer, Kunle Ogunba (SAN). At Monday’s hearing, the judge also overruled the objection raised by the 4th and 6th defendants’ lawyer, Adeseye Opasanya (SAN), to the suit.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants were however not represented by any lawyer. Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned to March 29, 2023.
In its statement of claims, the plaintiff (Sifax) claimed it was one of the 13 firms that bid for the contract after the 3rd defendant issued a formal Request for Qualification (RFQ).
The plaintiff averred that out of the 13 firms, the 3rd defendant later invited shortlisted bidders, including the plaintiff, which bid with Changi Airports (as a consortium) to submit proposals for the contract.
The plaintiff further averred that by the specific precepts of the Request for Qualification (RFQ), no applicant is expected to bid twice for any of the specific assets under any guise or form.
The plaintiff further claimed that contrary to the misleading impression that both the 6th and 7th defendants are separate entities, a search on the internet reviewed a contrary position. It was disclosed that a firm, Airport De Paris (ADP) owned 49 percent and 46 percent shares in the 6th and 7th defendants respectively.
The plaintiff added that having contravened the Request for Qualification (RFQ) without any legal basis, the 6th and 7th respondents should be disqualified from participating in the tender or joining any group in future, saying their action is a demonstration of dishonesty and deliberate attempt to deceive the contracting authority.
The plaintiff is consequently seeking for the following declarations among others:
A declaration and a concomitant order that the submission of separate bids by the 6th and 7th respondents with the impression that they are separate entities without any admixture of ownership structure amounts to a material misrepresentation and a breach of Section 2.2, and Sub-section 2.2.1 of RFQ.
An order directing the 3rd respondent to immediately disqualify 6th defendant-led consortium and the 7th defendant’s submission, as well as ADP as a standalone party from participating in the tender or joining any group in the future after the announcement of pre-qualification results.
A declaration and concomitant order that the plaintiff is the most qualified applicant/bidder in the bidding process, both in terms of commercial and technical components of the entire bidding exercise and therefore should/ought to be declared the successful bidder for the concession of Murtala Muhammed International Airport”.