• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway bid didn’t follow due process, advise FG to halt it — Doherty tells AGF

Coastal Highway: Doherty faults FG on planned demolition amid cost, EIA concerns

Funso Doherty, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2023 Lagos gubernatorial election, has told Lateef Fagbemi, the attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister for justice, to advise the federal government to halt the ongoing Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

The governorship candidate made this call in a letter dated April 19, 2024, addressed to the AGF, stating that there was no competitive bidding for the project as provided in the Public Procurement Act (PPA).

The proposed 700-kilometer road project, with an estimated budget of N15.6 trillion, has become a subject of public debate.

Concerns have been raised by a section of the Nigerian populace regarding the transparency surrounding the allocation of the contract.

The project was criticised by Atiku Abubakar, the former vice-president, who labeled it as “scandalous” and being shrouded in secrecy.

Further allegations were made by Atiku, asserting that President Bola Tinubu placed his personal commercial interests ahead of the national interest. He contended that the road contract was granted to Hitech, a firm reportedly owned by Gilbert Chagoury, without a process of competitive bidding.

David Umahi, the minister of works, has also confirmed that this 700 km road contract that spans 9 states of the federation was awarded on a single-source basis, without competitive tendering.

Doherty, who had earlier written to the national assembly on the same issue, maintained that the project didn’t follow due process.

“As you know, the Public Procurement Act entrenches competitive bidding as a fundamental principle. It is true that Part VII of the Act allows for special and restricted methods of procurement in certain cases.

“However, single-source procurement, which is a special and extreme form of restricted procurement, is only permitted in emergencies outlined in Sections 42 and 43 of Part VII of the Act. Those Sections are reproduced as an attachment to this letter, for ease of reference.

“It is clear that none of the lawful grounds for single-source procurement that are provided for in the PPA, validly apply to this contract award for the coastal road,” he said in the letter to the AGF.

He asked the minister for justice to advise the federal government to halt the project, subject it to due process and prosecute any offences of non-compliance.

“Call the FMW and BPP to order, advise the FGN to halt the project before it proceeds any further and subject it to due process including competitive bidding as required by the law.

“Enforce the provisions of the law, by prosecuting any offences of non-compliance that have already been committed in the award of this contract,” the letter reads in part.

Doherty added that the matter is turning out to be a litmus test of the AGF’s commitment to “uphold the rule of law and stand with the people and protect the public interest over narrow and powerful vested interests.”