Akinpelu Dada with agency report
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has stated that the Federal Government will honour the 36-year concession agreement it signed with Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited in respect of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two in Lagos.
He also said that contrary to the 12 years’ concession period being peddled by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Bi-Courtney was to build, operate and transfer the terminal back to the government after 36 years.
With the development, Bi-Courtney can now do regional flight operations from the terminal. Four years ago, the government had prevented the firm from operating flights to other African countries from there after reportedly spending over N1bn to provide facilities, www.woleshadare.net reports.
Speaking at the quarterly Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative in Lagos today on Thursday, Mohammed stated that flouting of agreements by the government would send a wrong signal to the international community that the country was not respecting business pacts.
The minister said, “Agreements must be obeyed. We cannot continue as a government to look at colour, religion and ethnicity in making decisions. When you draw an agreement, it is not the fault of the other party if you don’t come with competent people to draw up an agreement.
“You can’t blame the other party. Agreements must be obeyed. We will obey the agreement as a government with the case of MMA2.”
He stated that the terminal was the best in Nigeria that should be replicated, adding that if MMA2 was a mistake, “We need to make more of such mistakes. We know what the problems are and we need solutions to the problems.”
The Chairman, BASL, Dr. Wale Babalakin, alleged that FAAN disobeyed a directive by former President Umar Yar’Adua on the implementation of the agreement.
“The late President ordered FAAN to implement the agreement after listening to the argument of both parties,” he said.
Explaining his long drawn battle with FAAN over the concession of the terminal, Babalakin said the controversy came up as a result of the alleged breach of contract by the government.
He noted that the MMA2 concession agreement stipulated that all domestic flights from Lagos, as well as revenues accruing from such flights, were to be operated by the BASL.
According to him, the company was shocked when Arik Air began to operate from the General Aviation Terminal.
Babalakin added, “Our lawyers had anticipated that it was possible that somebody would try to break the law. Even if you break that law, the agreement will now say all revenues must come to us and we should be given the first option to make any such development.
“When this happened, we complained. We now went to the arbitration panel set up by the Attorney General of the Federation. It has three members from Bi-Courtney and three from the Federal Government.’’
He alleged that the agreement unanimously reached by the panel was never implemented, leaving the company with no option than to go to court, which ruled in its favour in 2009.
“We went back to court to seek for damages. After considering every submission, the court awarded us N132bn damages in 2012, which remains unpaid till date,” he said.
He added that six appeals were filed by the Federal Government, Arik Air, National Association of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and two others, which were all dismissed
“Arik went to the Supreme Court, but the case was dismissed in five minutes. Since 2012, the same authorities have been accumulating this money, which is now N200bn,’’ Babalakin added.
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