Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited on Monday said the recent court injunction, which it secured setting aside a new concession agreement granted to Motorway Assets Limited to finance the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and manage the road was not meant to stall the redevelopment of the road.
The firm, owned by Dr. Wale Babalakin, also declared as illegal the award of the reconstruction contracts to Julius Berger Plc and Reynolds Construction Company (Nigeria) Limited by the Federal Government without any public tender.
Even as it blamed the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan for the delay the project had suffered, Bi-Courtney said this was the basis for challenging the government’s decision to terminate its contract in the first place.
It said in a statement that its latest court action, which led to the injunction, was taken to correct an alleged illegality by the Federal Government in signing a fresh concession agreement with MAL when a subsisting one was still being challenged in court.
The company stated, “The purported concession granted to Motorways Assets Limited through the Infrastructure Bank did not go through any due process. It was never advertised in newspapers in Nigeria. The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act expressly provides that concessions in Nigeria must be advertised in two national newspapers.
“Furthermore, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission must issue a no-objection approval before the concession is then taken to the Federal Executive Council for approval. None of these elementary steps was taken.
“Yet, as stated earlier, the Jonathan government purported to have granted a concession to the company. In any civilised part of the world, all the participants in this mockery would have been seriously sanctioned if not appropriately prosecuted. It is thus not surprising that the Federal High Court, in setting aside the contraption called a concession, stated clearly that the whole exercise violated all known principles of law and justice.”
It attributed the delay in executing its concession contract to the inability to get the project design approved on time by the Federal Ministry of Works, adding that the ICRC attested to this in its report.
The firm, which noted that it would have completed the road project in record time if it had received the kind of support being given to the new contractors now, said it spent $300m to maintain the road, while it was under its care for three years.
It added, “The ICRC revealed that out of the three years and six months that Bi-Courtney had the concession, direct delay by the Federal Government was two years and 10 months. The rains accounted for six months. In effect, in a period of three years and six months, Bi-Courtney only had two months to work properly and it actually commenced the work through Borini Prono on September 23, 2012.
“It is noteworthy that the ministry at the highest level commented positively on the quality of work and the speed of Bi-Courtney. This commendation was aired on TV on November 12, 2012 and November 13, 2012. A week later, the government terminated the agreement and illegally awarded the contract to Julius Berger and RCC without a public tender.”
It also accused the Federal Government and all those involved in the project of perpetrating an unlawful act, saying they had consistently misled the public about the terms of the concession agreement.
For instance, the firm stated, “Out of the N167bn to be raised for the implementation of the project, the Jonathan administration provided the sum of N50bn for the concessionaire. This money was supported by a standing payment order of about N2.5bn payable every month from the coffers of the Federal Government.
“In addition, several guarantees were made available to The Infrastructure Bank and its baby, Motorways Assets Limited. This must be sharply contrasted with the situation of Bi-Courtney. Bi-Courtney did not receive a kobo from the Federal Government of Nigeria or any other government agency. It committed its own resources to the project and expended over $300m.”