By Debo Oladimeji
The High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has adjourned the case between a Nigerian start-up, Agriconnekt Services,which 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.
According to the counsel to the claimant they were in court on Monday the 8th of May. The counsel to Agriconnect appeared in court. Counsel for first, second and 3rd defendants were also in court, they had filed defense and motion arises to the issue at hand. Secondly, the motion for the interlocutory injunction by the 3rd defendant has been suspended by the court pending our return on the 27th of June after alternative dispute resolution process ordered by the court.
He said that the judge ruled that the defendants should have a round table discussion and resolve with him, so they were given till 27th of June to resolve with him with the help of a mediator in the multi-door court who will look at the whole case and propose various awards of compensation.
“ We are happy it is going this way. Hopefully justice will be done by the claimant. By the time we go to the multi-Door court. We will make sacrifices and know the award the court will be making to the claimant. I hope that justice will be done by the time we get the multi-Door court. The injustice which is the is illegal removal from the project will be addressed in court.
“In Multi-Door court we are going to file the necessary processes and claims. Basically, the documents that we are relying on so that they can look at it and the defendant will also comply. We believe we have a good case as far as we are in court. The most important thing is to file the process and the document we rely on to serve the Multi -Door court.
“ So if we are okay with whatever they are offering, then we go back and report to the High Court on 27th of June and the judge will now give a court order for the payment to take effect. Whereas we refuse what was awarded by the mediators, we proceed with the case.
According to the counsel to Agriconnect the matter which was adjourned to 8th May, for pretrial and one of the lawyers informed the court that they will be filling for a preliminary objection.
The claimant, Dr Brain Iweh of Agriconnekt Services. The first defendant is GIZ, the second defendant, Mercy Corps, the third defendant Comana, and their lawyers were fully in court.
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.”