From Uche Usim, Abuja
Despite a subsisting court order blocking the takeoff of the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, the Federal Government has brought in a jetliner in preparation for operations
The jetliner, believed to be an Ethiopian Boeing 737-860 aircraft marked ET-APL, but rebranded with the Nigeria Air livery, landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Friday morning.
The Aviation Minister had announced on Wednesday, in a television interview, that the aircraft will land in Abuja on Friday.
In the buildup to the establishment of a new national carrier, local operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria obtained a court order blocking the launch of the airline for not making them part of the ownership structure of the national company.
Nigeria Air’s ownership structure comprises Ethiopian Airlines with 49 per cent stake, Nigerian private investors (SAHCO, MRS, and other institutional investors) with 46 per cent and the Federal Government five per cent.
Nonetheless, Sirika, had in several fora, assured the public that the national carrier would fly before the end of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
AON, via its legal team led by Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad of Nureini Jimoh Chambers, frowned at Sirika’s last minute move to float a national carrier despite a subsisting court order.
Its petition titled ‘Nigeria Air Project: Last Minute Planned Disobedience to Court Order And Deliberate Plan to Rubbish the Achievement of this Administration’, described the move of the Minister as shady and a deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment, mainly against the Federal Ministry of Aviation over the Nigerian Air Project.
“In the suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided by Hon. Justice A.L Allagoa, in the above suit, granted Orders of interim and interlocutory injunctions, in the terms contained in the Order, restraining taking of any step in relation to the Nigeria Air project.