GAT Concession: FG’s Suit Against Bi-Courtney Thrown Out Of Court

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A suit filed by agencies of the Federal Government challenging the propriety of the concession of the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Mohammed Airport domestic terminal (MMA2) against Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited has been thrown out of court.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja who decided the suit described the suit filed by the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as an abuse of court process, and held that issues canvassed by the plaintiffs (Aviation Ministry and FAAN) had been conclusively determined by his learned brother, Justice J. Chikere in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CJ/50/2009.

He also noted that the decision of Justice Chikere in the previous suit instituted by Bi-Courtney was binding on all agencies of the Federal Government, as the judgement stated “The parties named in the Relief 7 are agents/agencies of the Federal Government. They are agents/agencies of a named principal that is the Federal Government;” thus, any order against the known principal binds the agents/agencies.

“The agents/agencies stationed and operating at all airports terminal in Lagos State could not have operated without the support or approval of the Federal Government.”

They are, therefore, restrained, prevented or prohibited from operating scheduled flights in and out of Lagos State from any airport terminal other than MMA2 or an airport terminal owned/operated by the plaintiff during the concession period as stipulated in the Agreement,” the judge said.

Justice Mohammed further held that the issues raised in the suit by the ministry and FAAN had equally been settled by the Court of Appeal, and noted thus: “It was also held by the Court of Appeal that by implication, the Federal Government and it’s agencies have their interest adequately represented by the Attorney General of the Federation, being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation. It was further held by the court of Appeal that as an agency of the Federal Government, the 2nd Plaintiff’s (FAAN) interest cannot be different from that of the Federal Government.”

With the verdict, Bi-Courtney can now take-over GAT which was recently renovated by the Federal Government and commissioned on the 22nd of October, 2o12, said a statement by its spokesman, Dipo Kehinde.

The company further noted that the GAT “was declared an integral part of the MMA2 concession by the decision of the Federal High Court in 2009. But in a desperate move to prevent the handing over of the premises to Bi-Courtney Limited, four appeals had been filed and lost by the Attorney General of the Federation, Ojemaie Holdings (Landlord to Arik Air), NUATE and ATSSAN (Trade Unions under the Ministry of Aviation) and FAAN.”

“It remains a monumental embarrassment and a flagrant disregard for the Rule of Law that the GAT was built by the Ministry of Aviation, when there was a clear restraining order against the Federal Government of Nigeria on the construction of the terminal.

It is also a serious dent to the image of the Federal Government as a promoter of the Rule of Law that an innocent company such as Bi-Courtney Limited could be deprived of the fruits of its labour by an obstinate refusal by the Aviation ministry to comply with simple and clear terms of an agreement,” the statement concluded.

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