The contractor handling the N9.2bn worth of clean cook stove and wonder bags awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, has dragged the Federal Government to court.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Fatima Mede, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday shortly after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ministry’s activities inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mede said the contractor approached the court to order the government not to terminate the contract following the emergence of the present administration.
The Jonathan-led Federal Executive Council had on November 26, 2014 approved N9.2bn inclusive of Value Added Tax for the procurement of 750,000 units of clean cook stove and 18,000 wonder bags.
The contract was awarded in favour of Messrs Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited.
There has been calls on the present administration to terminate the contract.
Confirming the legal action, Mede, said the ministry had briefed the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on the development.
She said the government would appear before the court to argue its case.
She however did not say if there were plans to terminate the contract.
She said, “The matter is in court right now, so there is a limit to how I can talk
about the issue of cooking stove.
“The contractor took government to court asking the court to grant an injunction for government not to terminate the contract.
“We will go there and argue our case, the government will go, we have briefed the Attorney-General’s office.
“We will present our case on the issue that led to the contractor taking us to court, it will be explained and the court will decide.”
Mede said during her team’s meeting with Buhari, the President raised concerns over environmental degradation in the country.
She said the President was aware that the sustainability of the country would depend on how well the environment was managed.
She added that the rate of desertification and deforestation in the country is alarming.
She said over 43% Nigerians were affected by the effect of desertification.
The Permanent Secretary also pointed to the conflict that comes up between the herdsmen and farmers because of forced migration.
She said the President had directed that to reduce the rate at which wood was being cut down as fuel for cooking, the ministry should consider promoting the use of cooking gas especially in the cities.
She said, “For instance, if everybody in Abuja is using LPG to cook, the rate at which people cut down wood to sell will be reduced.
“The President is also concerned about the fact that Lake Chad is receding from the 33,000square kilometres about two decades ago to just 300 square kilometres which has affected the farmers, fishermen and the livelihood of the people around that area.
“So, he has directed that we should go and look at the report that was submitted in 1920 about how to prevent Lake Chad from drying up, so that the communities around, even border communities, including the countries benefiting from activities of fishermen and livelihood, based on Lake Chad are not affected.
“So, he has directed that we should bring up that report immediately and see how we can promote the use of LPG to reduce the rate at which trees are being cut down.
“He was also concerned about the level of environmental management, solid waste, erosion control, pollution, air quality, climate change, the general environmental situation in the country.”
Olalekan Adetayo – Punch