Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd (BASL), operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, on Sunday claimed that Arik Air was not indebted to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), but to BASL.
Bi-Courtney made the claim in a statement signed by its Chief Operations Officer, Ms Adebisi Awoniyi, which was sent journalists in Lagos.
Arik Air operations at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) were disrupted on April 20 by aviation unions and some FAAN workers, over its alleged N12.5 billion indebtedness to the agency.
However, the statement claimed that the alleged N12.5 billion debt was part of Bi-Courtney’s legitimate revenue that FAAN had continued to appropriate, despite several legal pronouncements.
It said: “We want the public, particularly relevant stakeholders, to note that the country’s law recognises Bi-Courtney as the genuine owner of GAT.
“This thus makes FAAN’s continuous operation of the terminal illegal and a clear violation of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. FAAN, however, continues to defy the laws of the land.
“It has openly and recklessly denied our company 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 our favour.”
The statement said consequently, all revenues being collected by FAAN at the GAT, including the contentious N12.5 billion, belonged to Bi-Courtney.
It said: “The implication of this is that both FAAN and Arik Air are indeed fighting over monies that lawfully belong to Bi-Courtney.
“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.”
According to the statement, particular judgments confirming the owner of GAT as Bi-Courtney include the 2009 ruling of Justice J. Chikere of the Abuja Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CJ/50/2009.
It said the same judgment was reaffirmed in a ruling on February 13, 2013 by Justice A.R. Mohammed of the same court, in a suit filed by FAAN and the Ministry of Aviation, asking the court to declare that they were not bound by the ruling of Chikere.
The statement said Mohammed, in his ruling, had stated categorically that by suing the Attorney-General of the Federation, Bi-Courtney’s suit was binding on all agencies of the Federal Government. (NAN)