Agriconnekt sues foreign firms over €1.3m for breach of contract

Brain Iweh CEO Agriconnekt
Brain Iweh CEO Agriconnekt

Case adjourned till 8th of May

A Nigerian start-up, Agriconnekt Services, has sued two international agencies and a Nigerian firm $450,000 in damages as well as the payment of an additional $758,000, which the firm claimed was indicated in a budget to be allotted to it from a project called “Smartdevelopmenthack,” organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development alongside team Europe and its partners and implemented by GIZ—also known as the German Agency for international cooperation and development.

The matter was meant to be heard yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State over an alleged breach of contract. The counsel to Agriconnect appeared in court. Counsel for first, second and 3rd defendants were also in court, but unfortunately they haven’t filed any defence to their claim, which they also informed the court.

According to the counsel to Agriconnect they have also filled their pretrial forms, but due to their inability to file any defence, they couldn’t go on with the pretrial, so they have taken another date to enable them file their defence and then, file answers to their pretrial questions.

He said that they are coming back to court on the 8th of May, for pretrial and one of the lawyers informed the court that they will be filling for a preliminary objection, so they are waiting for them to file so that they can as well file their counter for the preliminary objection.

“Hopefully in about 2 weeks thereabouts, they should be able to file all their processes then we also react accordingly. We are for the claimant, Dr Brain Iweh of Agriconnekt Services. The first defendant is GIZ, the second defendant, Mercy Corps, the third defendant CoAmana, and their lawyers were fully in court yesterday. I think it is a matter that we will see how it goes, and see how we can remedy the injustice, but we are going to leave that for the court to decide. We can only do our part and allow justice to take its course.”

The start-up, Agriconnekt Services, alleges that Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, a German agency simply identified as GIZ; a US non-profit, Mercy Corps; and Nigeria’s CoAmana breached a contract and diverted 1.3 million euros, an amount which Agriconnekt has a share in.

The firm, in a statement by its CEO, Dr. Brain Iweh, said, “After an intensive hackathon online, Agriconnekt emerged as one of the nine global winners but GIZ, in collaboration with Mercy Corps, replaced Agriconnekt with a company called “Coamana” which was never one of the nine global winners selected for the project after the intensive competition.”

It added that eight global winners in other countries received their funds and have started implementing their various projects, but Agriconnekt was denied the funds as one of the duly selected global winners of the competition and was removed for various reasons.

Iweh said the alleged reasons given for Agriconnekt’s removal was that the firm might not be able to manage the resources and deliver the project being an early-stage start-up

He said, “Whereas, Agriconnekt provided the solution, pitched to the judges, and fully participated in the entire process to get its Food Security and Digital Agriculture value chain solution to win, thus the project. Also, during the call for solutions as advertised, GIZ specified that start-ups are allowed to apply, and while filling up the application form, Agriconnekt also identified that they are an early-stage start-up.”

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