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Headwinds for Nigeria Air as court Halts its establishment

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Nigeria’s proposed national carrier Nigeria Air has landed in a courthouse even before takeoff as Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos issued an Order of Interim Injunction restraining the Minister of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Attorney General of the Federation and other defendants from executing the proposed National Carrier, Nigeria Air.

This comes after the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said that no rational court can stop the airline as it is a Limited Liability Company, reports our media partners Nigerian Flightdeck.

His Lordship, Hon Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa after hearing the submission of Nureni Jimoh SAN with Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad Esq.counsel for the Plaintiff/Applicant move in terms of the Motion paper granted the injunction.

The injunction read, “The Court after careful consideration of the application and submission of counsel.it is hereby ordered as follows:1.That an Order of Interim Injunction is granted restraining the Defendants either by themselves, agents, privies, Principals or any other persons whosoever from draft the proposed executing “NATIONAL CARRIER ESTABLISHMENT AND AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA (represented by the 3rd and 4th Defendants) and the strategic equity partner (the 2nd Defendant) or giving effect to and or suspending the sale and transfer of the shares & operations of the 1stDefendant by the 2nd Defendant pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.

“That an Order of Maintenance of Status Quo by all parties in this suit from taking any further step(s) in relation to the subject matter of this suit pending the determination of the Motion on Notice is granted.

“3. That an Order of Accelerated Hearing of this suit is granted.

Reports had surfaced that the national carrier project may be stopped by the court as local airlines and their association, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), deemed the new Nigeria Air to be anti-competitive and damaging to domestic airlines.

According to the report, the indigenous airlines wanted the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport License already issued to the airline by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority claiming 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.

The local airlines further alleged that ATL issued to Nigerian Air did not pass through the normal security clearance.

However, Sirika who reacted not knowing of the injunction said he has not been served and so he can talk about it stressing,” I have not seen any rational court that would say I am stopping somebody from establishing a company because Nigeria Air is a Limited Liability company in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)”

The Minister, Sirika had stated that no court can stop anyone for establishing a legitimate business especially as the country is seeking foreign direct investment (FDI), the aviation minister was reacting to questions from the media yesterday.

Sources close to the process concurred: “There is no way that a governmental decision following the formal PPP [public-private partnership] process can be stopped by a court. The judge is halting the proces to get the governmental reply, nothing else.”

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