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Court Halt FG Plan To Cede AIR Nigeria To Ethiopia Airlines

By Wahab Akinlade

A Federal High Court in Lagos, has restrained the Federal Government, FG, and Ethiopian Airlines from proceeding with the establishment of a proposed national carrier called Nigeria Air Limited in the interim.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa made the restrain order, while granting a motion ex parte marked FHC/L/CS/2159/22, filed by the Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria and five others in the aviation industry.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa also ordered all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo, till the determination of the substantive suit.

The four other plaintiffs are Azman Air Services Limited, Air Peace Limited, Max Air Limited, United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited and Topbrass Aviation Limited, listed as first to sixth plaintiffs.

The four defendants in the suit are: Nigeria Air Limited, Ethiopian Airlines, Senator Hadi Sirika (Minister of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Aviation) and the
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

The judge granted the application as prayed after hearing the submission of plaintiffs’ counsel, Nureni Jimoh, SAN,

The plaintiffs claimed, among others, that the firm which served as Transaction Adviser for the transaction, was incorporated in March last year and alleged that the company was linked to the aviation minister.

They are seeking eight reliefs including a declaration that the action, conduct and or decisions in the sale of the shares and operations of the 1st Defendant violates several laws including the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, SEC Nigeria Consolidated Rules & Regulations 2013 (as amended in 2022), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention, Civil Aviation Act, and Consumer Protection Act and other regulatory statutes on aviation, companies and investment laws.

“A declaration that the entire administrative actions and decisions of the Aviation Minister and the AGF in the sale of the shares of the Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines and its consortium is invalid, void and of no effect.

“A declaration that Ethiopian Airlines was incompetent to bid for shares in Nigeria Air and commence business accordingly.

The plaintiff argued that the second defendant who is not a private entity but fully owned Ethiopian Government Parastatals and its consortium who are majorly foreigners were discreetly allowed to be the sole bidder and winner of the purported bidding process.

Also that the third and fourth defendants approved the bid of the second defendant and its consortium as the sole bidder and sole winner in contravention of all known laws.”

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