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Pacific Silverline, Isasha Investment, two others threaten to sue NPA over boat service contract

Four companies have issued a pre-action notice to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over alleged plans by the Authority to award boat service contracts in the four pilotage districts to an entity that did not participate in the procurement bid process as required by the Public Procurement Act.

The four companies are Pacific Silverline Ltd, Isasha Investment Ltd, ICA Logistics Ltd and Nexttee Oil & Gas Trading Co. Nig. Ltd. The pre-action notice dated 23rd September 2021 was addressed to the managing director of NPA by the solicitors to the four companies, Messrs Akinlawon & Ajomo.

The companies said NPA’s plan to award the contract to an entity that did not participate in the procurement process violates the Public Procurement Act, Cap P.44.

The notice titled ‘Pre-Action Notice Pursuant to Section 92 of the Nigerian Ports Authority Act CAP N126’, signed by Anthonia Titilola Akinlawon, SAN, reads in part: “We are solicitors to Pacific Silverline Ltd of 4B Louis Solomon Close, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island Lagos; Isasha Investment Ltd of 3, Desmond Tutu Street, Asokoro, Abuja; ICA Logistics Ltd of 24, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt; and Nexttee Oil & Gas Trading Co. Nig. Ltd of 14, Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“We have the instructions of our clients to serve this pre-action notice. We were informed by our clients that they have prior to this time submitted expressions of interest for their engagement as Service Operations Monitoring Agents in four Pilotage Districts pursuant to Public Notice No. 4115 Lot 3 and that after a rigorous exercise of bidding and tendering in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, Cap P.44, they were shortlisted for the award of the contract,” the notice states.

The notice further states: “Our clients now have cause to believe that your Authority is about to award the contract to an entity which did not participate in the procurement process as required by the said Public Procurement Act, Cap P.44. In the circumstances, our clients shall commence a legal action against your Authority at the expiration of a period of one month from the date of the service of this notice on you to claim by originating summons to determine whether the Defendant can award any contract for procurement of services to any entity other than in strict compliance with the Public Procurement Act, Cap P.44.”

According to the notice, the claimants will pray for a declaration that the contract for services as Service Operations Monitoring Agents in four Pilotage Districts pursuant to Public Notice No. 4115 Lot 3 cannot be awarded by the Defendant to any entity other than one which has participated fully in the processes laid down by the Public Procurement Act, Cap P.44.

The notice however states that only the entities that participated in expression of interest are eligible to be awarded the said contract, having been shortlisted.

It also said that the claimants will also seek for an injunction restraining the Defendant whether by itself, its servants, agents, privies or otherwise howsoever from awarding the contract as Service Operations Monitoring Agents in four Pilotage Districts pursuant to Public Notice No. 4115 Lot 3 to any entity other than the Claimants.

Recall that in September 2020, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had granted an injunction stopping NPA from terminating the role of INTELS Nigeria Limited as manning agent in the four pilotage districts – Lagos, Warri, Bonny/Port Harcourt and Calabar.

The judge, Justice R.M. Aikawa, granted the injunction in the suit number FHC/L/CS/1058/2020 based on an application filed by INTELS Nigeria Limited and Deep Offshore Service Nigeria Limited against NPA.

INTELS and Deep Offshore had requested the court to restrain NPA from preventing them from performing their duties as manning agents pending the determination of ongoing arbitration proceedings between the parties.

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