General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
* Floors Aviation ministry, FAAN in court
By Davidson Iriekpen
An airport concessionaire, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, Sunday disclosed that it was set to take over the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, which was recently renovated by the Federal Government and inaugurated on October 22, 2012.
The company said its action was predicated on the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which last Friday struck out the suit filed by the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over the concession of the terminal.
The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Ramat Mohammed, had described the suit by the ministry and FAAN as an abuse of court process.
According to a copy of ruling obtained by THISDAY, Justice Mohammed held that the issues canvassed by the plaintiffs (Ministry of Aviation 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 Bi-Courtney, 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 2nd Plaintiff’s (FAAN) interest cannot be different from that of the Federal Government.”
Reacting to the ruling last night, Bi-Courtney’s spokesman, Dipo Kehinde, said: “These decisions have cleared the path for Bi-Courtney to take over the GAT, 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 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.”