Legal restraint stalls BPE bid to sell 3 power stations

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday restrained the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from further proceeding with privatising three major power stations.

They are Aloaji, Omoku and Gbarain power stations. The BPE had slated the bidding process for the stations’ sale on March 7, 2014.

Justice Abdulkadir Abdulkafarati’s order followed an application by lawyer to a firm, Ethiope Energy Limited, Alex Iziyon (SAN).

Iziyon, representing the plaintiff – Ethiope Energy – urged the court to stop the BPE from going ahead with the bidding, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

He argued that despite being put on notice about the pendency of the suit, the defendants had proceeded with the bidding.

“Despite being put on notice, they went ahead to take initial step to overreach the motion on notice. They said that there was no court order stopping them from going on with the bidding process.

“They had ample time to brief a lawyer concerning the case, but they failed to do so because we served them on March 6, 2014, the last time the case came up. Till date, no process has been filed by them in this case.

“The court can make an interim order stopping them from taking further step in the exercise because the case cannot be in court and the defendant will continue to take further steps that will destroy the res of this case,” Iziyon said.

Responding, BPE’s lawyer, A.M. Kayode, who said he held the brief of Professor Taiwo Osinpitan (SAN), prayed the court to order an accelerated hearing as against an order of injunction.

“I urge the court to order an accelerated hearing in this case. I do not have instruction from my principal to give undertaken. We are not aware that any step has been taken so far in this matter,” Kayode said.

Ruling, Justice Kafarati upheld Iziyon’s argument and held: “It is apparent that the defendants have been served with the motion on notice and they fail to brief their counsel. An order of interim injunction is hereby granted against the 1st defendant from further going on with the bidding process of the power stations.”

The case has been adjourned till March 25.

Ethiope Energy is, by the suit, challenging its alleged exclusion from the bidding by the BPE.

In its statement of claim, Ethiope Energy accused the Chairman of the Due Diligence Committee, Atedo Peterside, of having “enormous influence on the BPE.”

Ethiope also accused the BPE of allegedly manipulating the technical bid evaluation due diligence.

Sued with BPE are Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

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