Court stops FG from taking over Lagos airport

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has stopped the Federal government from taking over the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos from its current operator and manager, Bi-Courtney Limited.

Justice Binta Nyako had in an exparte order on Thursday further restrained the Federal government and its agencies from interfering or hampering the operations of Bi-Courtney with respect to its management of the airport.

The Judge granted the exparte motion after listening to Wale Babalakin, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to that effect. The court however said the interim order will subsist pending the determination of the originating summons filed by Bi-Courtney.

Counsel to the applicant, Babalakin had told the court that there was information that the Federal Government, through some of its agencies, seeks to repossess the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA2) within the next two days.

He argued that despite the existence of evidence to support Bi-Courtney’s claim of an existing 36-year concession contract between it and the Federal Government, in relation to the management of the airport, officials of the government have continued to insist that the contract was for 12 years.

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“We have a 36 year concession, which has been confirmed by an Arbitral Tribunal, and up to the Supreme Court. But, there are rumour that they (the defendants) want to take over the airport within the next two days, on the grounds that we have 12 years lease,” Babalakin said.

He then prayed the court interim order injunction to prevent the defendants and their restraining the defendants, either by themselves or other agencies of Federal Government of Nigeria or their agents “from approving the taking over or operating the Domestic Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons.

Babalakin equally sought similar orders to restrain the defendants from interrupting the plaintiff’s management of MMA, and for them to “maintain status quo and not interfere in the processes.”

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Listed, as defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/471/2019 are, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Minister of Aviation, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and the Inspector General of Police.

Bi-Courtney, in the originating summons, wants the court to, among others, declare that it is entitled to uninterrupted operation and management of the domestic wing of the MMA “throughout the subsistence of the concession period granted to the plaintiff by the concession agreement dated 24th April 2003 between the plaintiff and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, represented by the Minister of Aviation and FAAN, particularly the addendum thereto, dated February 2007, without let or hindrance” by the defendants and their agents.

It is also praying for an order of injunction restraining the defendants and their agents from “contemplating, initiating, taking any action, process or procedure towards the takeover of domestic wing of the MMA” while the concession agreement still subsists.

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The plaintiff also wants an order, directing the AGF, Minister of Aviation, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission “and other appropriate officers of the Federal Government, to execute forthwith, on behalf of the FGN, a sovereign undertaking in favour of the plaintiff”, to the effect that the FGN, its agencies and officials shall not contemplate of take steps to interfere or hinder the plaintiff’s operation and management of the MMA during the 36 years concession period granted the plaintiff, by virtue of the 2003 agreement.

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