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Agric Minister, Audu Ogbe sued over N25bn egg production contract

Audu-Ogbeh

A civil rights group, Centre for Social Justice, has dragged the Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe before the Federal High Court in Abuja over N25billion egg production contract he awarded to a firm.

The group, in the suit marked FCH/ABJ/CS/ 520 /2016, is seeking leave of  the court to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the Minister to release details and copy of the N25bn contract he signed with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited.

The said contract was supposedly aimed at facilitating egg production in the country on a project tagged National Egg Production Scheme, NEGPRO.

Specifically, the plaintiff, through its lawyer, Mr. Kingsley Nnajiaka, is praying the court to compel the Respondent to furnish it with a copy of the signed agreement, the contact address of the company, newspaper where the procurement contract was advertised and the criteria for selecting Tuns Farms for the project.

The plaintiff anchored its request on provisions of sections 1, 20 and 21 of the freedom of information act, 2011, sections 48(1), 51 of the  Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

It is urging the court to among other things, issue  “a declaration that denying the Applicant access to the details and the copy of N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira) contract the Honourable Minister signed with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited to facilitate egg production in the country on the project called National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO) without explanation constitutes an infringement of the Applicant’s right guaranteed and protected by section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.   “A declaration that the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant to the Applicant access to the details and the copy of N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira )  contract the Honourable Minister signed with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited to facilitate egg production in the country on the project called National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO)despite Applicant’s demand violates Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

“A declaration that the continued refusal of the Respondent to grant access to the Applicant of  the details   and the copy of N25 billion (Twenty Five Billion Naira )  contract the Honourable Minister signed with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited to facilitate egg production in the country on the project called National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO) without explanation constitutes an infringement of the Applicant’s right guaranteed  and protected by Section 48  of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007   As well as, “An order compelling the Respondent to pay to the Applicant the Sum of  N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) as damages for denying the Applicant access to information”.

The plaintiff told the court that it had after the Minister informed the general public that he signed the egg production contract, approached him to furnish it with the details.   It said that a letter it wrote to the Minister under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, requesting for details of the contract especially how Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited was selected for the contract and if the contract was advertised in any newspaper in compliance with the provisions of Public Procurement Act, was ignored.   Meanwhile, the suit is yet to be assigned to any judge for hearing.

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