The first aircraft of the proposed national carrier, Nigerian Air has landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), Abuja despite a restraining court order blocking its launch.
The aircraft is believed to be an Ethiopian Boeing 737-860 aircraft (ET-APL), rebranded with the logo of Nigerian Air.
The minister had announced that the aircraft will land in Abuja Friday.
Domestic operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria had obtained a court order blocking the launch of the airline for not making them part of the ownership structure of the national carrier.
The airline’s ownership structure comprises, Ethiopian Airlines 49 per cent, Nigerian private investors (SAHCO, MRS, and other institutional investors) 46 per cent and the Federal Government five per cent.
But despite the court order, Sirika has occasionally insisted that the project would be launched before the end of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
AON lawyers have written a letter to Buhari, asking him to stop Sirika’s attempt to “circumvent the court orders.”
The lawyers led by Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad of Nureini Jimoh Chambers titled the letter, ‘Nigeria Air Project: Last Minute Planned Disobedience to Court Order And Deliberate Plan to Rubbish the Achievement of this Administration.’
They said, “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.”