Don't Stop Privatisation Of Power Stations, BPE, NCP Urge Court

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SAN FRANCISCO, July 09, (THEWILL) - A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has been urged to issue an order stopping the application by Ethiope Energy Limited for an order of interlocutory injunction to stop the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) from taking any steps to implement the bidding exercise in respect of the privatisation of three National Integrated Power Plants (NIPPs) power stations.

The Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited which was also joined as a party equally opposed Ethiope's application to‎ stop the bidding process.

Ethiope's lawyer, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), Wednesday, prayed the court to issue an interlocutory injunction saying that his client had met the conditions for the bids and that it was wrong to exclude it from the next round of bidding.

But counsel to the BPE and the NCP, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) said Ethiope Energy did not have any legal ‎right to compel the court to exercise its discretion in the company's favour, stressing that an applicant for interlocutory injunction should establish his legal right.

He further argued that Ethiope wrongly based its claim on commercial bids whereas what was in issue was financial bids.

He further argued that the document which the company relied on in instituting the case made reference only to financial bids, adding that having come under the wrong heading, the application for injunction should fail.

He also said that Ethiope did not meet the requirements for qualification.

According to him, bidders must show that they had 50 percent in experience and business class sections and other requirements.

He also told the court that the plaintiff's company ‎ did not place relevant materials before the court to enable the court exercise its discretion in its favour.

Arguing further, he said that what the plaintiff sought to stop was a completed bidding, as he added that injunction could not be granted to stop a completed act.

He therefore urged the court to dismiss the application.

Also arguing in similar terms, counsel to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, Dr. Fabian Ajogu ( SAN) said that injunction should not be granted to stop an action where damages would be an adequate compensation.

He ‎noted tha monetary compensation would be enough to take care of the plaintiff's loss if at the end, it lost anything.

But replying on point of law, Izinyon asked the court to discountenance the counter-affidavit filed by BPE and NCP on the ground that they were filed out of time.

However, Justice Abdu Kafarati adjourned the case to October 7 for ruling.

It would be recalled that the BPE had commenced the bid process for Alaoji, Omoku and Gbarain power stations on March 7. But Ethiope Energy, which claimed it also submitted bids for the power stations, said it was excluded from the bidding process.

And expressing dissatisfaction with the exclusion, Ethiope approached the court for an order to stop the BPE from going ahead with the bid process, accusing the Chairman of Due Diligence Committee, Mr. Atedo Peterside, of having an enormous influence on the BPE.

Ethiope accused Peterside of having a running battle with its Chairman, Chief Arumemi Johnson, alleging that Peterside was hostile and had animosity for Arumeni-Johnson.

Ethiope further accused the BPE of bias, prejudice, conflict of interest, manipulation of the technical bid evaluation, due diligence exercise, arguing that Peterside should have excused himself completely in the whole evaluation as it related to the plaintiff owing to the alleged animosity and litigation he had instituted against its chairman.

Other defendants in the suit are the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).

The court had on March 17, at the instance of Ethiope Energy, stopped the BPE from going ahead with the bid process for the three NIPP currently being privatised.