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Obasanjo awarded N37bn health contract in error – FG

Posted by By Tobi Soniyi and Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja on 2008/07/22 | Views: 3191 |

Obasanjo awarded N37bn health contract in error – FG


The Federal Government on Monday told a Federal High Curt sitting in Abuja that the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the N37bn health centre projects at its twilight in ‘error.’

The Federal Government on Monday told a Federal High Curt sitting in Abuja that the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the N37bn health centre projects at its twilight in ‘error.’

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), who made this known, said the Federal Government under President Umar Yar’Adua had to cancel the contract because it did not follow due process.

He argued at the resumed hearing of a case filed by the project contractor, Mathan Nigeria Limited, challenging the revocation, that the Federal Government had no business awarding contracts for such projects.

The minister said, "The past administration awarded the contract in error and due process was not follow in the award.

"Primary healthcare is not in the exclusive or concurrent list and it is not the duty of the Federal Government to award contracts bordering on the construction of health centres.

"It is the residual power of the states and the local governments and the Federal Government cannot force them on how to use their money.

"This government is rooted on the rule of law and if we see any action in the contrary, we shall not hesitate to stop it."

Besides, the minister said that the conditions attached to the payment for the contract by deducting from the Federation Account was unconstitutional.

The comprehensive health centres which were to be built in each of the 774 local governments area of the country was to be contractor-financed. Mathan was to be paid by direct deduction from the monthly allocation due to the councils.

Aondoakaa maintained that there was no law that supported the deduction of funds due to any level of government directly from the federation account.

The minister urged Justice Mustapha Umar to entertain a fresh preliminary objection he filed challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.

In the objection, Aondoakaa contended that the suit as it was filed by the contractor lacked merit and that the court was not competent to entertain it.

Mathan’s counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), said that the fresh objection raised by Aondoakaa was an abuse of the process of court.

Awomolo recalled that a counsel from the office of the AGF, Mr. Aikhunegbe Malik, had raised the same objection in February 2008 but was overruled by the court.

He said, "This court is caught by ‘issue estoppel’ on the fresh objection by the AGF because this same court has given its ruling on the same issues."

Issue estoppel refers to an issue already adjudicated by a court.

He said, "When an issue at any stage of a case has been distinctly raised and determined by the court, neither party is allowed to re-open, re-argued or re-litigate on such decision.

"This new objection is an invitation to the court to either review its ruling or sit as an appellate court over its previous decision."

The senior advocate argued that the law did not permit any court to sit as an appellate court over its own decision or a decision by a court of coordinate jurisdiction.

He urged the court to strike out the fresh objection by the AGF and go ahead with the substantive case.

After the arguments, the judge adjourned the matter till July 24.

Mathan filed the suit praying for, among others, an order setting aside the revocation of the contract on December 10, 2007 by the National Economic Council.

The contractor contended that the revocation of the contract was illegal and unconstitutional

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