Provide certified copy of contract document for 400 exotic cars – Court tells Gbajabiamila, Reps’ Clerk, NASC

Fela Onosode with Signaturetv report

 

The last is yet to be heard as an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday ordered the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mr. Patrick Giwa and National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to release all relevant contract documents relating to the purchase of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 Model cars.

The documents are to be handed over to the petitioner, Kingdom Human Rights International, according to the ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, in response to the suit on public interest in line with section 21 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011.

Section of the FOI Act, 2011 provides that: “any applicant who has been denied access to information or a part thereof may apply to the Court for a review of the matter within thirty days after the public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application or within such further time as the Court may either before or after the expiration of thirty days fix or allow.”

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2020, seeks to compel the Speaker of the House of Representatives to make available to the group, the contract papers for the supply of the 400 2020 Model Toyota vehicles for the purpose of ensuring accountability, due process and in support of the fight against corruption by the President Buhari administration.

After listening to the motion expatiate moved by counsel to the group, Barr. Okere Nnamdi, Justice Ekwo specifically ordered that the defendants should furnish the group with the following documents relating to the purchase of the exotic vehicles: “Certified true copy of the contract for the supply of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars for the House of Representatives.

“Certified true copy of the resolution was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020.

“Evidence of payment and bank transaction for the supply of the 400 2020 Toyota Camry cars between the House of Representatives and the company supplying the cars indicating the actual cost for each of the 400 cars.”

The Applicant had further sought for an order granting it leave to commence action for judicial review of administrative inaction of the 1st defendant to perform his statutory mandate and obligation under section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act to make the following documents available to the plaintiff in line with the plaintiff’s application letter dated 24/2/2020 and reminder letter dated 11/3/2020, to wit:-

“Certified true copy of the contract for the supply of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 Model Cars for the House of Representatives.

“Certified true copy of the resolution was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020 and evidence of payment and bank transaction for the supply of the 400 2020 Toyota Camry cars between the House of Representatives and the company supplying the cars indicating the actual cost for each of the 400 cars.

“An order granting leave to the applicant to commence action for judicial review of administrative action of the defendants to determine if the defendants have corruptly inflated actual contract sum for the supply of 400 2020 model Toyota Camry cars for the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in line with the Plaintiff’s application letter dated 24/2/2020 and reminder letter dated 11/3/2020.

The court was further urged to determine if the leadership of the House of Representative is set to corruptly embezzle public funds and has proposed between 40 to 45 million for each of the proposed 400 Toyota Camry vehicles, whereas the actual costs from Toyota website are between N10 million and N15 million that is between ($25,000 and $35,000 excluding the cost of shipping, import duty which is 70 percent of the net cost and other clearing charges and taxes at the port); and the reason some members of the House of Representatives who have rejected the cars as an unnecessarily expensive venture that will corruptly enrich the leadership of the lower Chamber are offered between N18 to N20 million cash in exchange for the cars, to lure them falsely consent and append their signature of taking delivery of cars purportedly purchased with N40 and N45 million, depending range of the vehicles.

The Court has fixed September 3, 2020 for the hearing of the substantive suit.

Recall that the Group, had in a letter dated 24th February 2020, addressed to the Speaker and received same day, requested for details of the transaction.

The letter read in part: “Independent investigation conducted by our organization indicated wide corruption, contract scam, criminal over inflation of contract sum/actual cost of each of the 400 vehicles to be purchased by the House of Representatives.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the resolution of the House of Representatives was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020, you resolved to purchase 400 exotic cars.

“Our Investigation indicates that the House of Representative under your leadership is relying on the corruptly over inflated price of the 2019 model, corruptly put at N26.75m and N35.75m (for V6 engine) to reap off public funds, under the guise that the 2020 model is expected to be costlier.

“Also, a check on the website of Toyota showed that the price of the car, depending on the variants, is between $25,000 (N9,000,000 at N360 to a dollar) and $35,000 (N12,600,000), excluding the cost of shipping, import duty which is 70 per cent of the net cost and other clearing charges and taxes at the port.

“For instance, those with higher specifications, as the National Assembly usually goes for higher range of vehicles, are XLE at $29,455; XLE V6 at $34,580;XSE at $30,005 and XSE V6 at $35,130. ”

The group ,further claimed: “Inside sources disclosed to us that the leadership of the House is set to corruptly embezzle public funds and has proposed between 40 to 45 million for the proposed 400 vehicles, whereas the actual costs from Toyota website are between N10,000.000 and N15,000,000.

“Our sources also’ disclosed that some members of the House have rejected the cars as an unnecessarily expensive venture that will corruptly enn‘ch the leadership of the lower Chamber.

“Our investigation also disclosed that you have offered between N18 to N20 million cash to House members that have rejected the cars, to lure them falsely consent and append their signature of taking delivery of cars purportedly purchased with N40 and N45 Million naira, depending range of the vehicles.

“We are concerned that the Buhari administration is fighting corruption and there need for every citizen, both natural and corporate citizens (civil society organization) to assist the government and join the fight against corruption.

“We therefore make this application in compliance with the express provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and we urge you to kindly provide us with information and documents listed in the subject matter of this letter within the time provided for in the Act, (seven days).”