Court Restrains MasterCard from Issuing National Identity Cards

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Emma Okonji

A Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained MasterCard and its agents from further issuing the National Identity Card on behalf of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the federal government agency responsible for registration and issuance of national identity cards.

Justice R.M. Aikawa gave the order following an exparte motion filed by Chams Plc and Chams Consortium Limited (CCL) on August 28, 2019.

The exparte which also included an Anton Pillar order was issued on November 7, 2019.

In their statement of claim, they are also asking MasterCard to pay the sum of N114 billion for damages.

Other defendants in the case include the President and Chief Executive of MasterCard International, Ajay Banga; Country Representative of MasterCard in Nigeria, Omokehinde Ojomuyide; a staff of MasterCard, Daniel Monehin; NIMC and 22 commercial banks as respondents.

The order of the court stated 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.”

Similar order was given to 22 respondent commercial banks in Nigeria, restraining them from honouring or giving effect to any transaction from MasterCard.

The Anton Pillar Order has empowered the prosecuting Solicitor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) of Pinheiro LP; Inspector General of Police (IG) or any senior police officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) 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 any body 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 the general damages of fraud perpetrated jointly and severally against the claimants, while N20 billion for inducing the breach and termination of the concessions awarded to the claimants by the third defendant, which occurred as a result of the first and second defendants’ fraudulent actions.

The federal government had in 2006, invited Chams to bid for the National ID project. Chams, in a statement, said it competed and emerged the preferred bidder for the Nigeria National Identity Card (NIC) concession.

The statement further said 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 went on to collude with others using technical information and design shared with them by Chams to frustrate the concession won by Chams and more than $100 million which Chams/CCL invested in the project,” the statement said.

In an open letter published earlier in the year to the president, Chams Plc and CCL asked MasterCard to accept wrong doing, apologise for the breach of contract and pay compensation to CCL and Chams Plc for their more than $100 million investment and accumulated losses.