N9.2bn cook stoves: Contractor sues FG

Festering controversies trailing Federal Government’s N9.2 billion cook stoves programme has taken a twist as Integral Renewable Energy Service Limited, the company handling the project, has secured an ex-parte injunction against revocation of the contract.

It would be recalled that no sooner had Goodluck Jonathan’s administration approved N9.2 billion for the National Cook Stoves Scheme, than Nigerians started expressing outrage over the deal, describing the project as not only bizarre, but also a leeway to divert public fund.

The amount was approved in 2014 for procurement of 750,000 units of clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonder bags. The Federal Government, however, consistently defended the project, insisting it would help reduce the number of death and illnesses associated with cooking with firewood.

However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Fatima Mede, blew the lead open on the project while responding to inquires in Abuja last week. Mede said the company failed to stay true to the project delivery deadline, even as she also noted that there was nothing on ground to show the contractor had supplied to the tune of 15 per cent payment made to it.

According to her, the ministry has paid N1.3 billion, being 15 per cent of the contract sum.

She explained that the contractor had consistently spurned letters written to it demanding physical counting of the number of stoves so far supplied.

Based on the failure to give account, she hinted that the ministry might be compelled to revoke the contract.

The permanent secretary also confirmed that the sum was paid from the N5 billion so far released by the Federal Government for the project. Justifying the revocation threat, Mede said, “The contract was supposed to last for three months, if you count from the time we mobilised him, you will discover the time has elapsed.

However, a reliable source in the ministry told our correspondent that the threat to revoke the contract must have jolted the contractor, hence his recourse to court action.

According to the source, the contractor has secured an ex- parte injunction restraining the ministry from terminating the contract.

The source said the ministry had been served the court processes and that motion for interlocutory injunction had been fixed for hearing on June 26, 2015, at FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja.

Another source from the ministry also told our correspondent that the permanent secretary’s noholds bared revelation on the contract was premised on the fact that the former Minister, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam, shut her out in the deal.

According to the source, the permanent secretary confided in some people close to her that she decided to wash her hands off the contract because she didn’t want to be linked with what she did not know anything about.

Olufemi Adeosun – National Mirror

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