Members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria have faulted plans by the outgoing Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika to flag off operations of Nigeria Air despite the restraining court orders on the controversial project.
The AON, in an official letter written by its Solicitors to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, described the move as an attempt to “circumvent the court orders on Friday, being the last working day of this administration, and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, among others.”
In a letter signed by Abubakar Nuhu Ahmad of the Nureini Jimoh (SAN) Chambers, addressed to the President, captioned: “Nigeria Air Project: Last Minute Planned Disobedience to Court Order And Deliberate Plan to Rubbish the Achievement of this Administration”, the AON said Sirika chose the last working day of the administration to bring in two aircraft in contravention of the court order, urging the President to stop the Minister’s negative action.
The AON noted that bringing in two aircraft for Nigeria Air “is a clever way to violate court orders.”
President Buhari was reminded that the suit was “filed to question the shady deals, deliberate infractions of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment/ corruption mainly by the ministry of aviation over Nigeria Air project.”
In the said suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided by Justice A.L. Allagoa, granted three separate court orders of injunctions in the terms contained in the order, “restraining taking any step, in relation to the Nigeria Air project.”
The AON implored the president to stop this action and ensure compliance with the terms of the order and avoid needless controversies after the exit of his administration.
The letter vowed to ‘pursue contempt action against the minister personally whether or not he has left office.
The letter which was copied to the Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Aviation, read, “We are solicitors to Airline Operators of Nigeria (“Our Client”). Our client filed the above suit to question the shady deal, deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws, and self-enrichment, mainly against the Federal Ministry of Aviation over the Nigerian Air Project.
“In the suit, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided by Hon. Justice A.L Allagoa, in the above suit, granted Orders of interim and interlocutory injunctions, in the terms contained in the Order, restraining taking of any step in relation to the Nigeria Air project. Copy each of the Orders are enclosed as Annexures 1, 2 & 3.
“As your Excellency is well aware, the administration will hand over on Monday, May 29, 2023, but the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the Court Orders on Friday 26th May 2023 being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.
“This was disclosed in the interview granted yesterday by the Hon. Minister to Channels Television and the same has gone viral on social media. The Minister is planning to hurriedly bring in two (2) aircraft and pretend that Nigeria Air has commenced operation.
“Aside moral justification for commercial operation after the Minister’s last day in office, it is a clever way to violate the court orders. This action has no regard to whether or not it will stain the record of this administration, whether or not it will cover for corrupt actions raised in the suit and deliberately meant to violate Court Orders for self-serving purposes.
“We, therefore, imploy your Excellency to STOP this action of the Minister of Aviation, ensure compliance with the terms of the Order and avoid needless controversies on the action after your Excellency’s administration would have expired.
“Notwithstanding, our client will still pursue contempt action against the Minister personally whether or not he left office, for the promotion of the rule of law, protection of the integrity of the court and in line with international best practices.”
Sirika had revealed on Wednesday that two Nigeria Air aircraft were scheduled to land in the country on Friday.
The minister who revealed this on Channels Television promised that the aircraft would be unveiled in Nigeria’s colours in fulfilment of all the promises made by the administration in the aviation sector.
Sirika had at an aviation stakeholder’s forum in Abuja in March said that Nigeria Air would commence full operations before the end of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.