A court sitting in Abuja has frozen accounts belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), over a N34bn contract.
On Friday Justice John Tsoho granted a Garnishee Order on the accounts of INEC at First Bank PLC and UBA PLC with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the sum of N17.2bn in enforcement of an earlier judgment delivered by Justice Auta on January 28, 2014.
The court also ordered the deduction of over N17 billion from the accounts of the electoral body in favour of Beddings Holdings Ltd (BHL).
According to the court documents, Beddings Holdings Ltd.’s ex parte application, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/492/2018, was in court against the electoral body in respect of a contract for supply of Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes (ECTBB) and Proof Address System/Scheme (PASS) worth N34.5 billion for the 2010 voters’ registration.
Bedding Holdings had approached the court challenging INEC’s decision to give the contract to three companies — Zinox Technologies, Avante International and Haier Electrical Appliances — saying the decision had violated its patent right. The parties in the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2010 include Bedding Holdings, INEC, the Attorney General of the Federation and the three companies that secured the contract.
The company urged the court to compel INEC to pay it half of the total contract sum amounting N17.2 billion as compensation for infringing on its valid and subsisting patent right. The court agreed that with the total evidence provided by the parties in the case BHL owned a subsisting patent right over the process, application and the use of the DCC machines.
The court, therefore, ordered the then INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to pay the compensation to the patent holder. But INEC filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja in 2014, challenging the judgement of the Federal High Court, which awarded the compensation.
INEC is insisting at the Appeal Court with appeal number: CA/132A/2014 that BHL is not the sole patent owner of the election equipment. The electoral body is also challenging the way and manner BHL rushed and secured the patent right from the Federal Ministry of Commerce within two weeks, even though the process takes months to accomplish.