By Lukman Olabiyi
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos has restrained Federal Government from going on with its Nigeria Air agreement reached with Ethiopia Airlines.
The court granted an “order of interim injunction restraining the federal government from executing the proposed or draft agreement of the establishment of a national carrier between Ethiopian Airlines and Nigeria”.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa who granted the order on Friday, November 12, 2022, ruled that an Order of Maintenance of Status Quo by all the parties in the suit from taking any further step(s) in relation to the subject matter of the suit pending when the determination of the Motion on Notice is granted.
Registered Trustees of the Airlines
Operators of Nigeria (RTAON) alongside Azman Air, Air Peace, Max Air, Topbrass Aviation and United Nigeria Airlines had approached the court to stop the deal.
The plaintiffs instituted a N 2 billions suit against the Federal Government’s national carrier deal with the Ethiopian Airlines
In the suit Nigeria Air Limited, Ethiopian Airlines, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and Attorney- General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, were listed as defendants.
Among other prayers of the indigenous airlines operators before the court are: an order of the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport Licence already issued to Nigeria Air by the Federal Government/Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
A declaration that the Ethiopian Airlines was incompetent to bid for shares in the Nigerian Air
and commence business accordingly.
An order setting aside the entire bidding/selection process(es) for the “Nigeria Air” project as well as the approval, grant or selection of the Ethiopian Airlines by other defendants in the process.
An order of the court directing the defendants to pay the sum of N 2billions to the plaintiffs as damages for the injury suffered by the plaintiffs and still suffering as a result of the wrongful exclusion of the plaintiffs, wrongful action; unlawful bidding and selection processes and their wrongful projection of the plaintiffs as not having properly, rightly and timely bid for the Nigeria Air project.
Among the issues, the plaintiffs want the court to determine are: whether on proper construction of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, SEC Nigeria Consolidated Rules & Regulations 2013 (as amended in 2022), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention, Civil Aviation Act, Public Procurement Act, Concession Regulatory Commission (Est.) Act, 2005, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, Procurement Processes for Public Private Partnership in the Federal Government under the National Policy on Public Private Partnership (N4P) and Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, 2015 and other regulatory statutes on aviation, companies and investment laws in Nigeria; the action, conduct and or decisions in the sale of the shares and operations of the Nigeria Air is not invalid, null & void.
But the court in granting the exparte order on Friday, ruled that an Order of Accelerated Hearing of this suit has been granted.
“An order of interim injunction is granted restraining the defendants either by themselves, agents, privies, principals or any other persons whosoever from executing the proposed or draft “National Carrier Establishment and Agreement Between the Federal Government of Nigeria (represented by the third and fourth defendants) and the strategic equity partner or giving effect to and or suspending the sale and transfer of the shares and operations of the first by the second defendant pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
“That an Order of Maintenance of Status Quo by all the parties in this suit from taking any further step(s) in relation to the subject matter of this suit pending the determination of the Motion on Notice is granted,” Justice Lewis-Allagoa ruled.
Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation on Tuesday had said that the federal government is going ahead with establishing a national carrier despite the subsisting suit challenging the project.