Nigeria Air: Court renews status quo order on FG, domestic airlines - VANGUARD
Adjourns proceeding till February 13
By Prince Okafor
The hope of the federal government running a national carrier, Nigeria Air, before the end of 2022, has been derailed.
This is coming on the heel of a Federal High Court in Lagos decision to renew its order directing the Federal Government and domestic airlines to maintain the status quo in their suit concerning the establishment of a proposed national carrier.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had earlier insisted that no rational court in the country can stop the takeoff of the National carrier.
But, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa made the order pending the determination of the suit filed by The Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria and five others in the aviation industry.
By implication, the Federal government cannot set up any national carrier yet.
Meanwhile, the four other plaintiffs are Azman Air Services Limited, Air Peace Limited, Max Air Limited, United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited and Topbrass Aviation Limited are the first to sixth plaintiffs.
The first to fourth defendants are Nigeria Air Limited, Ethiopian Airlines, Sirika and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The judge adjourned proceedings till February 13.
However, two “intervenors/applicants” filed an application praying the court to strike out the name of The Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria as a party in a suit arguing that its inclusion in the suit “is invalid”
On November 15, the court granted the plaintiffs an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines from proceeding with the establishment of Nigeria Air Limited.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa also ordered all parties to the suit to maintain the status quo following the plaintiffs’ motion ex parte in Suit FHC/L/CS/2159/2022.
At the resumption of proceedings Thursday, Mr. Nureni Jimoh, SAN, appeared for the Airline Operators.
Jimoh’s bid to move his motion on notice for an injunction against the defendants was opposed by Mr. Seun Oriowo for Nigeria Air and Minister of Aviation, Mr. Raji Rasaki for the AGF and Mr. Ajibola Salisu for the intervening applicants.
The judge turned down Rasaki’s argument for an adjournment for lawyers from the AGF’s Abuja office to take over the defence, rather than those from its Lagos office.
Mr. Bassey Attol for Ethiopian Airlines informed the court that he had filed a response to Jimoh’s application, while Salisu’s prayer for an adjournment was opposed by Jimoh, on the ground that “the intervening applicants are not a party to this suit. They interlopers here to disrupt proceedings.”
In his ruling, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held: “I’ve reviewed all the applications before me. In the circumstances, the proper thing to do is for the parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of this suit.”
He adjourned till February 13, 2023.
The two intervenors/applicants, in their November 23 application seen by The Nation, are Capt. Edward Boyo and Capt. Nogie Meggison.
They prayed for an order “striking out the name of the 1st Plaintiff (The Registered Trustees of Airline Operators of Nigeria) as a plaintiff in this suit, for want of due authorisation and/or sanction from the Registered Trustees qua National Executive Council of the Association.”
Among the grounds for their prayer “There was no meeting of either the members, the National Executive Council or the Board of Trustees of the 18 Plaintiff wherein any decision/resolution was taken to institute this present suit.
“The Decision/Resolution and/or authorization of the National Executive Council comprising the Registered Trustees is a condition precedent to the proper institution of any suit in the name of the 1st Plaintiff.
“The Inclusion of the 1st Plaintiff as a party to this suit is invalid.”