Court stops issuance of national identity cards
Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has halted the production and issuance of Nigeria’s National Identity card by Mastercard and her agents.
This is even as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), said it will continue issuing National Identity Number (NIN), as appropriate.
The order halting production was made following an exparte motion filed by Chams Plc and Chams Consortium Limited (CCL), on August 28, 2019. The exparte, which also include an Anton Pillar order was issued on November 7, 2019. In their Statement of Claim they are asking Mastercard to pay the sum of N114 billion for damages.
Other defendants in the case include Ajay Banga, President & Chief Executive Mastercard international, Omokehinde Ojomuyide, Country Representative of Mastercard in Nigeria, Daniel Monehin, the staff of Mastercard, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and 22 commercial banks as respondents.
The order of the court states inter alia, “An order of interim injunction restraining the defendants, whether acting by themselves or by their directors, officers, servants, agents, technical managers, or otherwise however from further manufacturing, producing, designing and or printing or authorising the manufacturing, production, designing and or printing of any National Identity Card with MasterCard logo as described in paragraph 16 of the supporting affidavit in Exhibit CC9 pending the determination of the motion on notice filed for hearing.”
NIMC couldn’t speak on the matter because it is in court; however, a source close to the Commission told The Guardian that the issue will be looked into deeply for an appropriate solution.
According to the source, NIMC does not even have money to produce the cards now, “they are still hoping on getting the government’s support. However, this issue doesn’t stop the Commission from issuing National Identity Number (NIN). NIMC will still issue NIN as appropriate. The card in this matter, I mean the eID, being a payment card involves a lot of money that is why the Commission is doing it gradually.”
Meanwhile, further to the court ruling, a similar order was given to 22 respondent banks in Nigeria, restraining them from honouring or giving effect to any transaction from Mastercard. The Anton Pillar Order empowered the prosecuting solicitor Kemi Pinheiro, of Pinheiro LP, Inspector General of Police (IG), or any senior police officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police to search any of their premises, take into possession and remove any document relating to the said affidavit. They are also empowered to inspect, take pictures or arrest anybody found to be contravening the orders of the court.
A breakdown of the Statement of Claim shows that N84 billion is for special damages as a result of loss of expected revenue for eight years, N10 billion for general damages of fraud perpetrated jointly and severally against the claimants and N20 billion for inducing the breach and termination of the Concessions awarded to the Claimants by 3rd Defendant, which occurred as a result of the 1st and 2nd Defendants’ fraudulent actions.
Recall that in 2006, Chams was invited by the Federal Government to bid for the National ID project. It competed and emerged as the preferred bidder for the Nigeria National Identity Card (NIC) concession. Before and upon the execution of a concession agreement with the NIMC, Chams Plc pursued the implementation of the NIC concession by incorporating Chams Consortium Limited (CCL), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the sole purpose of implementing the NIC concession.
Chams Plc also invited MasterCard to work with the Chams Consortium as one of its technical partners on the NIC concession. Surprisingly and to the disappointment of Chams and other stakeholders, MasterCard allegedly colluded with others using technical information and design shared with them by Chams to frustrate the concession won by Chams and the more than $100million Chams/CCL invested in the project
In an open letter published earlier in the year to Nigeria’s President, Chams PLC and CCL asked MasterCard to accept wrongdoing, apologise for the breach of contract, and pay compensation to CCL and Chams Plc for their more than $100 million investment and accumulated losses.
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