Murtala Muhammed International Airport
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said that it has the legal ownership of all the lands at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and other airports in the country.
Crisis erupted on Monday at the ‘E’ Wing of the international terminal of the Lagos airport when workers of a concessionaire, A.I.C. Limited fought officials of Aviation Security (AVSEC) of FAAN over a piece of land, which the agency designated as temporary VIP car park, but which the company insists was concessioned to it by the agency in 1998.
In his reaction to the incident, the General Manager, Corporate Communications of FAAN, Yakubu Dati, said that every land at the airport belongs to the agency and to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is meant to serve public interest and not the interest of few highly placed people.
Dati said in a statement: “The attention of the Federal Airports Authority has been drawn to a recent altercation over a parcel of land owned by the Authority and presently being used as a temporary car park to ease up the traffic at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
“We wish to state in unequivocal terms that the parcel of land in question which is situated beside the international airport belongs to the authority and not to any concessionaire as claimed.”
Dati explained that about a decade ago, a concessionaire had requested for land for the development of a hotel and such was granted.
“However the transaction was subsequently enmeshed in controversy which resulted in arbitration.
The arbitrator awarded damages to the said concessionaire while the land remained FAAN property.
The concessionaire cannot therefore exercise legal right over the land but can pursue their interest- that is, monetary compensation as contained in the arbitral award.”
He reiterated that the Lagos airport premises and land situated therein were sole property of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and by their location were of security significance.
“The on-going development around the airport environment is for the general benefit of all and therefore overrides any personal or group interest.”
A.I.C Limited wanted to take over the land which it claimed was concessioned to it in 1998 by FAAN for 50 years to build A.I.C. Hilton Hotel, but when the company started building the hotel in 2001, it was alleged that FAAN stopped the project.
So last Monday, the owner of the company, Chief Harry Akande, arrived the premises for a final claim of the land with some of his workers and when they accessed the place, which is now a VIP car park, the aviation security tried to stop them, an action that gave rise to fisticuffs and mayhem.
A.I.C Limited claimed that the land was fenced round but FAAN broke the fences, accessed it and converted it to a car park.
Chief Harry Akande explained that A.I.C Limited got a bid from FAAN on February 17, 1998 to build an A.I.C Hilton Hotel in a concession agreement spanning for 50 years but added that FAAN came all of a sudden to disrupt the project while the construction work of the hotel was in progress as against the initial agreement entered into by both parties.
He said that since then both parties had been in the Federal High Court, which ruled in favour of A.I.C Limited restraining FAAN from taking over the landed property adding that in the arbitration headed by Justice Friday Esun, also awarded a fine to FAAN to pay A.I.C Limited $46 million for loss of profit and income that A.I.C had suffered for the hotel that should have been built and opened ten years ago.