A Federal High Court has dismissed a case brought before it by Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited against the Federal Minister of Works, Attorney General of the Federation and three companies.
Bi-Courtney had been been granted concession of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by the Federal Government but lost the contract when the government rescinded its concession due to a delay in the construction of the said expressway.
Consequently, Bi-Courtney approached the court to seek a redress restraining the government from stripping it of the concession and re-awarding to another construction firm arguing that any re-concession would amount to a breach of the contract between it and the Federal Ministry of Works in line with the earlier contract signed with the government.
It said it was never advertised in newspapers as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act expressly provides that concessions in Nigeria must be advertised in two national dailies.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Buba on Monday, April 25, who held that the matter was brought outside the time limited by the Public Officers’ Protection Act and therefore dismissed the action in its entirety and also disagreed with the defendant that the matter was an abuse of Court process.
Counsel to the Federal Ministry of Works, Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN told the court that once a suit against a public officer is commenced more than three months after the cause of action arose, such a case should be held to be statute-barred and the Court decline jurisdiction.
The delay in the construction of the expressway has continued to become a source of worry and nightmare to Nigerian road users some of whom have tagged it ‘death trap’. The Federal Government therefore acted quickly to remedy the situation.
Justice Buba adjourned the case till May 12 for hearing.