Anxiety as new Lagos air terminal threatens concessioning pact
BY WOLE SHADARE
A FRESH legal battle may recommence in the nation’s aviation industry, as the commissioning of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Ikeja Airport, Lagos, re-opened investment protection issue, under the law in the country.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, the Assistant Secretary-General of AON, Mohammed Tukur, said Section 2.2 of the agreement vests exclusive responsibility for scheduled domestic terminal operations on Bi-Courtney, but regretted that the FAAN has continued to run parallel services at the GAT, leading to a huge revenue loss to the concessionaire.
Brandishing a copy of the of a meeting called by former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2008, where he called the fueding parties, Bi-Courtney, represented by its Chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin; former Aviation Minister; Babatunde Omotoba; former Managing Director of FAAN, Richard Aisuebeogun; Chief of Staff to the former President among others, Tukur said “this is a great violation and abuse of power by the aviation minister”.
Spokeman for FAAN, Yakubu Dati, explained that the minister embarked on the project in the interest of the country, saying the 2003 pact was however, not in the interest of Nigerians.
After listening to the parties, the late President said since the pact was duly signed a government official, he directed that Bi-Courtney should be allowed to recoup its investment.
He equally said the firm should be allowed to develop the General Aviation Terminal, run it to recover its over N35 billion over a 32 years period as enshrined in the agreement.
Meanwhile, an airline chief told The Guardian yesterday that the Ministry of Aviation, through FAAN, has surreptiously directed all airlines operating from the MMA2 to the new terminal, set for commissioning today.
In July, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, dismissed an application by the FAAN challenging a 2009 judgment in favour of Bi-Courtney Limited, over a concession agreement at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 2 (MMA2) in Lagos.
FAAN had gone to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it was a party to the concession agreement dated April 24, 2003, which was the subject matter of a case between Bi-Courtney and the AGF that was settled in favour of Bi-Courtney at the Federal High Court on the date.
FAAN was represented by Messr. M. Okojie and N. Okonta; while Bi-Courtney was Messr Olawale Akoni SAN, K.E. Akanbi, B.B. Lawal, F. Badmus, and P. Ogunsuyi, Festus Jumbo and Judith M. Gaduk appeared for the Attorney-General of the Federation.The judge added: “In the circumstance, it is my view that the Attorney General of the Federation, being the chief law officer, is at all times responsible for conducting the case of the Federal Government and its agencies whenever their interest is an issue.