Port Harcourt, Rivers State – The High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has adjourned the case involving Nigerian start-up Agriconnekt Services, which filed a lawsuit against two international agencies and a Nigerian firm, seeking $450,000 in damages.
Agriconnekt Services also demanded an additional payment of $758,000, which the company claimed was indicated in a budget to be allotted to them from a project called “Smartdevelopmenthack.” The project was organized 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 court instructed the defendants to engage in a round table discussion and resolve the matter with the help of a mediator in the multi-door court. The parties were given until June 27 to reach a resolution. The recent court proceedings, which took place on June 27, focused on a report from the multi-door court, where the claimant and defendants were ordered to engage in alternative dispute resolution. The counsel to Agriconnekt Services expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision, stating, “We are happy it is going this way. Hopefully, justice will be done by the claimant.”
The counsel to Agriconnekt Services provided an update on the progress made in the multi-door court. Forms had been filed by the claimant, as well as the first defendant, GIZ, and the third defendant, Comana. The court was informed that the second defendant, Mercy Corps, was yet to submit their forms. The claimant’s counsel expressed hope that all parties would cooperate to ensure a favorable outcome.
The case revolves around Agriconnekt Services’ allegation that GIZ, Mercy Corps, and Comana breached a contract and diverted €1.3 million, a sum in which Agriconnekt claims to have a share. According to the CEO of Agriconnekt Services, Dr. Brain Iweh, the start-up emerged as one of the nine global winners of an intensive hackathon competition organized by GIZ and Mercy Corps. However, Agriconnekt was replaced with a company called “Coamana” despite not being one of the selected winners. The claimant contends that Agriconnekt was unjustly denied the funds earmarked for the winners.
Dr. Iweh stated, “Whereas Agriconnekt provided the solution, pitched to the judges, and fully participated in the entire process to win the project, GIZ, in collaboration with Mercy Corps, removed Agriconnekt from the project for various reasons.” The reasons given for Agriconnekt’s removal included concerns about the start-up’s ability to manage the resources and deliver the project as an early-stage company.
The court proceedings on June 27 also addressed an unrelated matter involving the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The court was informed that one of the defendants’ lawyers had mentioned an invitation from the EFCC. However, the claimant’s counsel clarified that the EFCC’s actions were unrelated to the ongoing civil action and that the EFCC investigation was still in the early stages.
Despite the mention of the EFCC, the court advised the parties to focus on the ongoing case and suggested contacting the EFCC to request a stay of action. The claimant’s counsel expressed their commitment to pursuing justice from all angles and ensuring a fair resolution for Agriconnekt.
The court adjourned the case to October 9, 2023, for further reports on the progress made in the multi-door court. The parties hope to reach a settlement before the next court appearance, potentially avoiding the need for further multi-door court proceedings. If a settlement is not reached, the claimant’s counsel indicated their intention to continue pursuing the case through the court system.
The Agriconnekt €1.3m breach of contract case highlights the importance of upholding contractual agreements and ensuring fair treatment for all parties involved.
As the court proceedings progress, both sides eagerly await a resolution that will address the alleged breach of contract and determine the rightful compensation for Agriconnekt Services.