Airlines sue Sirika as Nigeria Air planes arrive today - PUNCH
By Funmilayo Fabunmi
Domestic operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria have faulted plans by the outgoing Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to launch the operations of Nigeria Air on Friday (today) despite a restraining court order on the controversial project.
As a result, AON lawyers have written a letter to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), asking him to stop the minister’s attempt to “circumvent the court orders on Friday being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws ,among others.”
The local carriers also said they would sue the minister for contempt of court for planning to launch the carrier despite the court order stopping the project.
In the letter, signed by AON lawyers led by Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad of Nureini Jimoh Chambers titled, ‘Nigeria Air Project: Last Minute Planned Disobedience to Court Order And Deliberate Plan to Rubbish the Achievement of this Administration’ the local airlines said Sirika chose the last working day of the administration to bring in two aircraft in contravention of the court order on the project.
The local carriers therefore urged the President to stop the minister’s illegal action. AON noted that flying two aircraft in Nigeria Air livery ‘is a clever way to violate court orders.’
President Buhari was reminded that the suit was “filed 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.”
The Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector-General of Police, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Aviation, were copied in the letter.
It read, “We are solicitors to Airline Operators of Nigeria (“Our Client”). Our client filed the above suit to question the shady deal, deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment, mainly against the Federal Ministry of Aviation over the Nigerian Air Project.
“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.
” This was disclosed in the interview granted yesterday by the Hon. Minister to Channels Television and same has gone viral on social media. The Minister is planning to hurriedly bring in two (2) aircrafts and pretend that NigeriaAir has commenced operation.
“Aside moral justification for commercial operation after the Minister’s last day in office, it is a clever way to violate the court orders. This action has no regard to whether or not it will stain the record of this administration, whether or not it will cover for corrupt actions raised in the suit and deliberately meant to violate Court Orders for self-serving purposes.
“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.
“Notwithstanding, our client will still pursue contempt action against the Minister personally whether or not he left office, for the promotion of the rule of law, protection of integrity of the court and in line with international best practices.”