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Concession project: Court flays Customs’ interference in suit, directs settlement

A Federal High Court in Abuja has criticized the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over undue interference in the suit brought against it and the federal government…

A Federal High Court in Abuja has criticized the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over undue interference in the suit brought against it and the federal government over the Customs Modernisation Project, otherwise known as e-Customs.

Justice Inyang Ekwo Friday said the NCS’s action of writing directly to the chief judge of the court over the matter when it has a counsel on record was wrong.

The court had on June 17 restrained the NCS and the federal government from taking further steps in the e-Customs project until the determination of the suit by the E-Customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited. Both firms are jointly challenging the alleged unlawful concession of the project.

The NCS had in its letter to the Chief Judge John Tsoho pleaded that the order is impacting the revenue generation of the federal government.

Following the letter, the judge recalled the parties earlier than the November 7, 8, and 9 adjourned dates for the court to reconsider the order and vacate the same.

Subsequently, the judge directed the parties to explore an out-of-court settlement in the matter and report on the said dates.

The project is the federal government’s initiative to automate and digitize all the businesses, processes, and procedures of the NCS to establish its paperless operations through Huawei Technologies Ltd.

The respondents in the suit are the federal government, Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Infrastructure Regulatory Concessioning Commission, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Trade Modernisation Project Ltd, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Ltd, African Finance Corporation, and Bergmans Security Consultations and Supplies Ltd.

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