· Set to take-over GAT
The coast is now clear for the eventual take-over of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport domestic terminal (MMA2) by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), following the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which struck out the suit filed by the aviation ministry and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over the concession of the terminal.
The court, presided over by Justice A. R. Mohammed, in a judgment delivered last Friday, described the suit by the ministry and the FAAN as an abuse of the process of the court. According to a copy of the ruling made available to newsmen, Justice Mohammed held that the issues canvassed by the plaintiffs (aviation ministry and FAAN) had been conclusively determined by Justice J. Chikere of the Federal High Court in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CJ/50/2009.
The court noted that the decision of Justice Chikere in the previous suit, which was instituted by BASL, was binding on all agencies of the Federal Government. Quoting aspects of Justice Chikere’s judgment to justify its ruling, the court stated: “The parties named in the Relief 7 are agents/agencies of the Federal Government. They are agents/agencies of a named principal that is the Federal Government. Any order against the known principal binds the agents/agencies.
The agents/agencies stationed and operating at all airports terminal in Lagos State could not have operated without the support or approval of the Federal Government. They are therefore restrained, prevented or prohibited from operating scheduled flights in and out of Lagos State from any airport terminal other than MMA2 or an airport terminal owned/operated by the plaintiff during the concession period as stipulated in the agreement.”
Justice Mohammed further held that the issues raised in the suit by the ministry and FAAN had equally been settled by the Court of Appeal, while noting: “It was also held by the Court of Appeal that by implication, the Federal Government and its agencies have their interest adequately represented by the attorney general of the federation, being the chief law officer of the federation. It was further held by the Court of Appeal that as an agency of the Federal Government, the second plaintiff’s (FAAN) interest could not be different from that of the Federal Government.”
While reacting to the judgment, Bi-Courtney Limited (BCL), in a statement by its spokesman, Dipo Kehinde, yesterday, stated that: “These decisions have cleared the path for Bi-Courtney to take over the General Aviation Terminal, which was recently renovated by the Federal Government of Nigeria and commissioned on October 22, 2012.” Bi-Courtney further noted that the GAT “was declared an integral part of the MMA2 concession by the decision of the Federal High Court in 2009.
But in a desperate move to prevent the handing over of the premises to Bi-Courtney Limited, four appeals had been filed and lost by the attorney general of the federation, Ojemaie Holdings (Landlord to Arik Air), NUATE and ATSSAN (trade unions under the Ministry of Aviation) and FAAN.”
The statement affirmed that, “it remains a monumental embarrassment and a flagrant disregard for the rule of law that the GAT was built by the Ministry of Aviation, when there was a clear restraining order against the Federal Government of Nigeria on the construction of the terminal.” It is also a serious dent to the image of the Federal Government as a promoter of the rule of law that an innocent company such as Bi-Courtney Limited could be deprived of the fruits of its labour by an obstinate refusal by the aviation ministry to comply with simple and clear terms of an agreement.”