Nigeria Air Faces Opposition From Local Airlines As Planes Arrive
Domestic airline companies have threatened to sue the minister for contempt of court for preparing to start the carrier against the court injunction.
By Omotayo Olutekunbi
Barring a last-minute alteration, Senator Hadi Sirika, the departing Minister of Aviation, is poised to debut the much-anticipated Nigeria Air with the arrival of two aircraft today, Friday, May 26, 2023.
Despite opposition from the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and a restraining court order, the minister is pushing forward with the scheme.
Consequently, domestic airline attorneys have written to President Muhammadu Buhari, pleading with him to stop Sirika from disobeying the court ruling.
The airline operators contended that the minister’s intention to take receipt of the aircraft and begin operations on the final working day of his government might be an effort to.
Domestic airline companies have threatened to sue the minister for contempt of court for intending to start the carrier against the court’s injunction.
Recall that in November 2022, local airline companies including as Azman Air, Air Peace, Max Air, Topbrass Aviation, and United Nigeria Airlines sued the Federal Government over its national carrier arrangement with Ethiopian Airlines.
The airline operators stated that the license granted to Nigerian Air did not go through standard security checks and that the business that functioned as Transaction Adviser for the sale was tied to the minister of aviation.
They further claimed that the Federal Government’s collaboration with Ethiopian carriers would force small carriers out of business.
So, in a letter signed by their lawyers led by Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad of Nureini Jimoh Chambers, the local airline operators reminded President Buhari that they filed the suit last year “to question the shady deals, deliberate infractions of the Nigerian laws and self enrichment/ corruption mainly by the ministry of aviation over Nigeria Air project.”
They said the launching of Nigeria Air by Sirika is a last-minute planned disobedience to court order and a deliberate attempt to rubbish the achievement of Buhari’s administration.
They, therefore, urged the president to stop the minister’s action, saying flying two aircraft in Nigeria Air livery ‘is a clever way to violate court orders.’
The letter reads in part, “In the suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided by Hon. Justice A.L Allagoa, in the above suit, granted Orders of interim and interlocutory injunctions, in the terms contained in the Order, restraining taking of any step in relation to the Nigeria Air project. Copy each of the Orders are enclosed as Annexures 1, 2 & 3.
“As your Excellency is well aware, the administration will hand over on Monday May 29, 2023 but the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the Court Orders on Friday 26th May 2023 being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.
“We, therefore, employ your Excellency to stop this action of the Minister of Aviation, ensure compliance with the terms of the order and avoid needless controversies on the action after your Excellency’s administration would have expired”.
The domestic airline operators maintained that to promote the rule of law and protect the court’s integrity, they would sue the aviation minister whether he leaves office or not.
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