REFUSE CONTRACTS: Federal agency, BPP, usurping duties of LGAs, Shuns Legal Procedures, CRPA cautions

Refuse Vehicle in Nigeria

A federal government agency; the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has been fingered in abuse of legal procedures, intimidations and arbitrariness in its operations against the local governments' duties.

A nongovernmental organization (NGO), Center for Reform and Public Advocacy (CRPA) made the allegation on Tuesday stating that the agency under the headship of Mamman Ahmadu as Director-General has no regards to rule of law and legal procedures, but acting 'Commamdo' like the state governors that overshadow and hijack duties provided and earmarked for local governments.

The group through its Legal Adviser, Kalu Kalu Agu said that it is regretful that great efforts of President Muhammadu  Buhari to rebuild the nation particularly strengthening local governments to be active, resourceful and productive towards bringing development to the grassroots for optimum service delivery which state governors are resisting is also being discovered in an agency of the federal government.

It added that the presidency has been in the front line agitating for strengthening of LGAs should not also be found wanting over the same policy champions, by an agency under its control toeing the line of state governments in weakening and frustrating the local government system.

It cautioned that unless local governments in the country are enabled accordingly to operate effectively vis-à-vis duties and responsibilities assigned to them by the 1999 Constitution, that meaningful development will not be realistic. It commended President  Buhari for his unwavering position on making local governments effective and productive.

The group frowned that amongst the duties assigned to the Local Governments in Nigeria's Constitution is management and control of refuse within its domain, but unfortunately, the federal agency; BPP like the governors seemingly feel they are wiser than the drafters of the Constitution.

CRPA maintains its position that the ongoing procurement process for award of contract for refuse disposal within Abuja Municipal Area Council by the BPP despite a pending suit is an illegality, and above all, a colossal disregard to rule of law. and therefore cautioned on the need for parties to maintain status-quo accordingly.  

CRPA had, in 2020 dragged the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) before the Federal High Court, Abuja on allegations of illegality and gross disregard for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, premised on fraudulent and illegal award of contracts and usurpation of the constitutional duties of AMAC by the federal agency, BPP.  

Despite the pendency of the suit before a court and the need for parties to maintain status quo till the final determination of the case, the CRPA has alleged that, the Bureau of Public Procurement in connivance with the leadership of the Abuja Municipal Area Council has continued to trade the same path of illegality that gave rise to the suit.

In a letter to the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, CRPA highlighted the illegalities and constitutional infractions being perpetuated by the Bureau with the complicity of the leadership of AMAC, and demanded that all actions be put on hold pending the determination of the case. 

In the Suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1585/2020, the CRPA had sought among others a Declaration that, by virtue of Section 7(1)(5) and Paragraph 1(h) of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the disposal of refuse and the receipts of payments for same are the Constitutional and Statutory responsibilities of the Abuja Municipal Area Council and maintained firmly that it amounts to the height of illegality for the BPP and the Minister of the FCT to usurp these powers from the Area Council. 

The group noted that the leadership of AMAC is fully aware of these infractions, still in connivance looking the other way out of personal interests, primordial sentiments and partisanship.

The group said the unfolding conspiracies of the agencies leave much to be desired of a government, which its cardinal agenda is to rid the country of corruption.

The letter established further that in the whole Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, it was only within the AMAC that the BPP and Minister of FCT had a hand in issues connected to waste disposal which is a sole responsibility of the Area Council as established in a plethora of cases that have already been adjudicated on the subject matter.

Essentially, the three parties: Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory, AMAC and BPP are aware of the implications that it's a trite legal procedure that when a matter is pending before a court of law, parties are bound to maintain status quo until the final determination of the suit.

CRPA added that as an organization with a mandate to resist excesses in the public sector, that it would pursue the matter to a logical conclusion if the parties failed to abide by rule of law and desist from actions that may be prejudicial to the matter, and therefore called on relevant authorities to call the parties to order without delays.