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ATSSSAN, Others File Suit To Stop Sirika From Proposed Concession Of International Airports

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The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the National Union of Air Transport Employees and two other trade unions in the aviation industry have dragged the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to court over the proposed concession of the nation’s international airports without the consent and authority of the Federal Government, the 36 State Governments and the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria.

The other trade unions are the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, FAAN Branch.

In a suit dated March 14, 2023 and filed by their lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, before the National Industrial Court, Lagos, the trade unions are seeking amongst other things a declaration that the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory are owned by the Federation of Nigeria.

In documents put before the court and obtained by our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, the claimants say they are junior, senior and professional staff of FAAN whose employment is guided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Reviewed Conditions of Service, 2021 which was made pursuant to the Federal Airports Authority Act.

They say that FAAN which is saddled with the responsibility to manage all airports in Nigeria is supposed to be supervised by a Board of Directors whose members are appointed by the President, but the leadership of FAAN has has usurped these statutory duties of the Board since the members of the Board were not inaugurated.

They also allege that without the consent and authority of the Government of the Federation, the Minister of Aviation(who is the first defendant and FAAN (which is the second defendant in the suit) have concluded arrangement to concession the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Kano State; Port Harcourt International Airport; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.

They argue that the proposed concession cannot be justified on the grounds that the terminals require no further investments for the envisaged period of the concession.

They also say that the scope of the concession to the surroundings of the terminals, up to FAAN housing estates did not take the assets valuation into account.

They accuse the Minister of Aviation and FAAN of arbitrary fixing of profit sharing ratio (60:40) in favour of the Concessionaire.

The claimant also say that the concession is being undertaken by the Ministry of Aviation, and not by the FAAN which negates the Concession Act.

They also noted that the defendants have decided to ban trade unionism in the aviation industry contrary to the Trade Union Act (CAP T14) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

For the claimants, management contract option is more beneficial to the country than concession, considering that the airports in question are all brand new.

They also expressed the view that the proposed concession of the nation’s international airports has not considered the very serious implication of handing such important national security assets over to foreigners just as it has as failed to address the payment of severance benefits to members of the Claimants along with pension arrears owed former and present staf of the agency currently estimated at over N150 billion.

The claimants said that the FAAN generates an average of N70 to N75 billion annually and remits an average of N1 billion monthly into the Federation Account while monthly salaries for FAAN’s 8,000 staff currently stands at over N2.3 billion.

They also claim that the defendants have decided to determine the employment of the claimants in utter breach of the Federal Airports Authority’s Reviewed Conditions of Service, 2021 made pursuant to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act.

Since “several meetings to resolve the issues had failed to yield any result due to the recalcitrant attitude of the defendants”, the claimants dragged the defendants to court to seek the following reliefs;

“ a declaration that the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano State; Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory are owned by the Federation of Nigeria”.

“a declaration that the Defendants are not competent to concession the listed airports without the consent and authority of the Federal Government, the 36 State Governments and the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria”.

“a declaration that the employment of their members cannot be determined by the defendants without complying with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Reviewed Conditions of Service, 2021 and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act (Cap F5) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.

“an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from concessioning the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Kano State; Port Harcourt International Airport; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory”.

“an order of injunction restraining the Defendants from determining the employment of the members of the Claimants without complying with the provisions of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act (CAP F5) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Reviewed Conditions of Service 2021 in any manner whatsoever and howsoever”.

The suit is yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.

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