Court stops Nigeria Air over pressure from local airlines
No court can stop new carrier, Sirika says
A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday, issued an Order of Interim Injunction restraining the Federal Government and other parties from executing the proposed National Carrier, Nigeria Air.
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa, after consideration of the application and submission of counsel to the plaintiffs, that is the local airlines, ordered the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and other defendants, to halt all plans pending the determination of the motion of notice.
Meanwhile, one of the defendants and Minister of Aviation, Sirika, however, said the national carrier project is on course despite the stiff opposition from some stakeholders, including the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).
The AON had urged the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport Licence (ATL) already issued to Nigeria Air by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
They also claimed that the firm that served as Transaction Adviser for the transaction was incorporated in March last year and alleged that the company was linked to the aviation minister. The local airlines further alleged that ATL issued to Nigerian Air did not pass through the normal security clearance.
The order paper, obtained by The Guardian also granted an order of accelerated hearing of the suit.
The minister, however, denied knowledge of the suit, adding that the new carrier would continue according to the plan.
He said since the aviation roadmap was drawn and unveiled to the public, for every step taken, stakeholders were carried along including the unions and airline operators.
According to him, he personally and through other formal means invited the operators to be part owners of the national carrier but they refused, giving different excuses.
“I told Max Air, Azman, Air Peace, Ibom Air, everybody to please come and partner in this airline and own it. ‘It is meant for you in the private sector’. I went to them individually. But they refused,” he said.
He added that no reasonable court would stop anyone from starting a company, if it is true that the AON had gone to court to stop the national carrier process.
“But I cannot see any reasonable court that would say I am stopping somebody from establishing a company, because Nigeria Air is a limited liability company known to Nigerian laws in the corporate affairs commission. If anybody wants to come and invest in that company of Nigeria, there is no law in Nigeria that stops him from doing so.”