The federal government has been restrained from selling shares of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines by a federal high court sitting in Lagos.
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa gave the temporary injunction following a lawsuit filed by registered trustees of the Airline Operators in Nigeria (AON), Azman Air Services Limited, Air Peace Limited, Max Air Limited, United Nigeria Airline Company Limited, and Topbrass Aviation Limited, the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs formulated five questions to the court to determine which include;
“Whether the entire process for the sale and transfer of shares of the 1st defendant to the 2nd defendant and its consortium by the 3rd and 4th defendants is in line with the provisions of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Est.) Act, 2005, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention, the National Policy on Public Private Partnership (N4P), sections 76-81 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, and does not affect the entire process including the selection, approval or grant to the 2nd defendant and its consortium by the 3rd and 4th defendants is not invalid and thereby entitling the entire process to fresh bidding exercise?”
They also asked the court for;
“A declaration that the entire administrative actions and decisions of the 3rd and 4th defendants in the sale of the shares of the 1st defendant to the 2nd defendant and its consortium is invalid, void and of no effect.
“A declaration that the 2nd defendant was incompetent to bid for shares in the 1st defendant 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 2nd defendant by the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants in the process.
“An order directing the immediate, fresh and transparent bidding process(es) involving the plaintiffs being the indigenous Airline Operators in Nigeria rightly entitled to participate in the process.
“An order directing the immediate revocation and cancellation of the air transport license (ATL) issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to the 1st defendant.”
They also asked the court to award them N2 billion in damages and order a perpetual injunction restraining the federal government from transferring the shares and operations of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines.
Ruling on the case which has Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), as the first to fourth defendants, the federal high court judge said the government, represented by the aviation minister, and the AGF should not proceed on an “establishment agreement” until the substantive matter of the suit is heard and determined.
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa who asked the parties involved to maintain “status quo”, also ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.