Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
By Chinedu Eze
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has dismissed the report by Bi-Courtney Limited that it would take over the management of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos in accordance with a court decision.
FAAN said the court order was a ruse that never existed because the case was already in the Supreme Court.
In a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Communications of FAAN, Yakubu Dati, the agency insisted that the court order was non-existent.
“It is unfortunate that Bi-Courtney, which has acquired the notoriety of being a serial distorter of the truth, could mislead the press and by extension, the public into believing that the company had received a recent judgment or order on the ownership of Domestic Terminal 1, using a distorted interpretation of a court judgment given as far back as 2007, an appeal against which is still pending at the Supreme Court. This is moreso because some of the newspaper reports mischievously declared that Bi-Courtney was ‘set to take over the GAT’, a dream that Bi-Courtney has employed every intrigue at its disposal to actualise, without success.
“But Bi-Courtney provided a court ruling in the Federal High Court in Abuja Judicial Division on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, before the Hon. Justice A. R. Mohammed and Suit FHC/ABJ/CS/698/2012 between FAAN, Ministry of Aviation as plaintiffs and Bi-Courtney Limited and Attorney General of the Federation as defendants, which said that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
“By notice of preliminary objection dated 1/12/12, but filed 7/12/12, the defendant contended that this court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this suit and also objected to the competence of this suit. The grounds for the objection were given as follows...The instant action is a gross abuse of the process of the court by the plaintiffs as the substratum of this suit is an issue which has been finally litigated and decided upon by Chikere J of the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/50/2009 on 3rd March, 2009.”
The ruling which was signed by the registrar of the court, Ben Molokwu, insisted that earlier ruling of the case in the Federal High Court remains valid.
In spite of this, FAAN urged Nigerians to disregard “those news reports as figments of the imagination of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited and their co-travellers as FAAN is still the rightful custodian of Domestic Terminal 1 (formerly GAT) on behalf of the Nigerian people.”
“The public may wish to know that the last time Bi-Courtney’s claim over the former GAT came up for hearing, the presiding judge declared that he could not take the application because the case was pending at the Supreme Court. FAAN’s appeal against the said judgment of 2007 was premised on the fact that the Federal Ministry of Aviation and FAAN were not represented in the co-ordinating committee set up by the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aandooka, and the committee therefore could not have taken any decision on behalf of FAAN or the Ministry of Aviation as Bi-Courtney continues to insist.”
FAAN’s spokesman said that the case was among the cases before the Supreme Court but Bi-Courtney, in “its customary ploy to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting members of the public, has caused to be published in the mass media, falsehood that is designed to create confusion in the aviation industry.”
“Finally, we wish to restate FAAN’s determination to implement, to the full, the policy of the Federal Government to rid the aviation industry of all evil concessions, designed to fraudulently enrich a few Nigerians to the detriment of the general public and no amount of blackmail or intrigue can deter the authority from doing so,” the agency said.