By GNN Editor
Nigeria Air flight has landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The flight, which took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, finally journeyed through to Nigeria’s capital city on Friday, three days away from the change of batton between outgoing President Buhari and the incoming Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The debut of the Nigeria Air may have fufilled the promise that the national carrier would fly before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
The Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, had said that the aircraft would be unveiled in Nigerian colours in fulfillment of all promises the Buhari-led administration made in the aviation sector.
Solicitor to the Air Operators of Nigeria, Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad, of the Nureini Jimoh (SAN) Chambers, in a memo to the Attorney General of the Federation, yesterday, drew attention to the pending suit number: FHC/L/CS/2159/2022, challenging the “shady deals, deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment/corruption,” against the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the Nigeria Air project.
Ahmad said that in the said suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos headed by Justice A.L Allagoa, granted three separate orders of injunctions, restraining the defendant from taking of any step about the Nigeria Air project.
He noted that while the administration would hand over on Monday, May 29, 2023, “the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the Court Orders on Friday, May 26, 2023, being the last working day of this administration, and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.
“The Minister is planning to hurriedly bring in two aircraft and pretend that Nigeria Air has commenced operation. Aside from moral justification for commercial operation after the last day in office, it is a clever way to violate the court orders.” Ahmad stated.
He added that the action had no regard to whether or not it will stain the record of this administration.
“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 tenure has 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 the integrity of the court, and in line with international best practices,” the memo stated in part.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, in November 2022, ordered all parties involved in the proposed national carrier to maintain the status quo, effectively truncating the December take-off date as pledged by the minister.
The court gave the order upon receiving the application of the Air Operators of Nigeria, urging the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport Licence (ATL) already issued to Nigeria Air by the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Operators, like Air Peace, United Nigeria, Azman, and Top Brass, claimed that the firm that served as Transaction Adviser for the transaction was incorporated in March, last year, and alleged that the company was linked to the Aviation Minister. The local airlines further alleged that the ATL issued to Nigerian Air did not pass through normal security clearance.
A stakeholder, who did not want to be mentioned, regretted that after seven years and billions wasted on the project, the minister is still bent on creating landmines for the next administration.
He described the national carrier project as one of the most wasteful ventures ever undertaken in Nigeria’s aviation history.
He said: “Can the Civil Aviation Authority confirm which AOC Nigeria Air is using? Has an AOC been issued and when was it issued?
“In all honesty, is this airline founded on a solid foundation to meet the aspirations and dreams of Nigerians? Or is it just a feat to cover the wasteful and shambolic project of Hadi Sirika?
Apparently reacting to a report that Buhari has failed to deliver Nigeria Air as promised, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, had insisted that Nigeria Air would fly before the tenure of Buhari winds down
Speaking in a Television interview, Sirika had said, “On the question of Nigeria Air, on Friday in two days, Nigeria Air plane will land in Nigeria as part of the processes to commence operation. We will on that day unveil this aircraft, the livery and everything in Nigeria’s colours, belong to Nigeria Air and we will proceed to go and do the retrofit and bring back those airplanes.”