Bi-Courtney Lays Claim To Controversial N12.5b Debt, Remodeled GAT
…Says Arik Owes BASL Not FAAN
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, has declared categorically that the controversial N12.5billion under dispute between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Arik Air belongs to Bi-Courtney not the aviation agency as claimed.
This just as the operator also laid claim to the remodeled the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA),Lagos.
BASL made the revelation in an online statement signed by its Chief Operations Officer, Ms. Adebisi Awoniyi.
She pointed out that Arik Air’s alleged N12.5 billion indebtedness to Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which led to the disruption of its operations in Lagos and Abuja by aviation workers on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 was part of Bi-Courtney’s legitimate revenue that FAAN continues to appropriate despite several legal pronouncements.
She also stated that Nigeria’s law recognises Bi-Courtney as the genuine owner of the remodeled General Aviation Terminal (GAT), describing FAAN’s continuous operation of the terminal as not only illegal but also a clear violation of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
She alleged that FAAN however, continues to defy the laws of the land and it has openly and recklessly denied BASL 60 per cent of its revenue by its continuous illegal operation of the GAT as a competing terminal to MMA2 even after an Arbitration Panel, a Court of Law and an Appeal Court had ruled in BASL’s favour.
She added that all the revenues, such as Passenger Processing Charge, space rental, fuel surcharge and others, which FAAN had been collecting and continues to collect from its unlawful operation of the GAT, including the N12.5 billion in contention between FAAN and Arik Air, belong to Bi-Courtney.
Awoniyi stated that the implication of this is that both FAAN and Arik Air are indeed fighting over monies that lawfully belong to Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.
According to her, “We also wish to categorically confirm that all the airlines operating at the GAT are actively involved in FAAN’s act of illegality, because they are all aware of the position of the law in respect of the ownership of the terminal”.
She pointed out that it was indeed surprising to hear Arik Air, which had hitherto supported FAAN in all the latter’s obvious injustice towards Bi-Courtney and outright disobedience to court orders, complaining and now turning round to accuse the same FAAN of arbitrariness and disdain for the rule of law, wondering what went wrong with the romance between the two parties.
She also stated that the assertion by the Managing Director of Arik Air, Mr Chris Ndulue , “Arik Air continues to have confidence in the court even if FAAN does not have confidence in the court is shocking, adding that if Ndulue’s claim was true, Arik Air would have obeyed the court judgment that affirmed Bi-Courtney’s ownership of the GAT, especially after the appeal filed on its behalf by Ojemaie Holdings against the judgment failed.
She posited that instead of obeying the court’s ruling, Arik continued to support and encourage FAAN’s acts of illegality, adding that what Arik’s action means is that the airline is very selective in its understanding of the principles of the rule of law and court orders and that what Ndulue had as it concerns obeying the rule of law could be classified only as mere rhetoric.
“It is our hope that this development will serve as a wake-up call to other airlines, service providers and businesses operating at the GAT to the risk they are exposing themselves to due to their continued recognition of FAAN as the operator of the terminal, despite the well-publicised position of the nation’s law on the matter. It is public knowledge that the various court judgments on the issue, including the arbitration panel, which first adjudicated the dispute between Bi-Courtney and FAAN, on the terms of the concession agreement for the reconstruction and operation of MMA2, “unambiguously affirmed Bi-Courtney’s ownership of the GAT. There is a subsisting judgment of N132 billion in favour of Bi-Courtney, which FAAN has refused to honour due to its blatant disregard for the laws of Nigeria. This judgment was obtained in 2012. This amount four years on would have increased”. she said
She stated that the ownership of GAT was not in dispute as courts have ruled severally that it belongs to BASL but that to prevent the facility from being handed over to it, four appeals were filed and lost by the following: Attorney- General of the Federation, Ojemaie Holdings (landlord to Arik Air), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) Trade Unions under the Ministry of Aviation and FAAN.
Though, the General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Mr Yakubu Dati could not be reached for the agency’s official reaction but Abelnews gathered that agency has not reacted to the latest claims and allegations because it has not gotten official approval from ‘above’ to react the issues raised.
Abelnews recalled ATSSSAN, NAUTE, FAAN branch, had prevented Arik Air from carrying out its domestic operations at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, during the impasse.