National carrier, airline operators know fate April 25
Embattled new national carrier, Nigeria Air, and concerned parties are to know their fate on April 25 when the court resumes hearing.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, where the case was transferred to from Lagos, is to determine the propriety of the new jurisdiction.
The new date, however, may have sealed the fate of the airline and its take-off within the lifespan of the current administration that ends in May.
Local carriers, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), had approached the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking interpretation of the law on the process of procuring services of Ethiopian Airlines for operation of the proposed Nigerian national carrier.
Last month, the airlines also challenged the defendants’ (Minister of Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines, others) decision to transfer the case to Federal High Court, Abuja.
Entertaining the objection brought by AON on the transfer order, Justice James Omotosho of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court fixed April 25 to rule on the matter.
In contesting the process of appointing Ethiopian Airines for management of the proposed Nigeria Air, AON argued that the Ministry of Aviation ignored the legally mandatory stages of public procurement process as stipulated in the law establishing the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
According to AON, the law mandated advertisement of the appointment of an operator for the proposed airline in three national newspapers. It told the court that the Federal Government ignored the law by advertising only in two national newspapers and one foreign daily.
The plaintiff further argued that the law could be breached only in emergency situations, where the National Assembly could not convene to amend it, adding that there is no emergency in the process of appointing an operator for Nigeria Air to warrant a transgression of the law.
AON wondered why a matter that approaching conclusion at the Federal High Court in Lagos was suddenly transferred to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It contended that there was no extraneous situation to warrant the transfer.