A federal high court in Lagos has prohibited the federal government from selling the shares of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines.
The temporary injunction was given in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/2159/2022 and 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 suit 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.
In the enrollment order dated November 15, A. Lewis-Allagoa, the 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.
While asking all the parties in the suit to maintain “status quo”, the judge ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.
Meanwhile, in the originating summons of the suit, the plaintiffs formulated five questions to the court to determine, one of which reads:
“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?”
The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed the court to declare 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”.
The plaintiffs also sought for: “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.