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Lagos Court Restrains Nigeria, Airline Operators from Further Taking Action Over Nigeria Air

The first to fourth defendants are Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines, the Minister of Aviation, and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The Federal High Court in Lagos has renewed its order directing the Federal Government and domestic airlines to maintain the status quo in their suit concerning the establishment of a proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa made the order pending the determination of the suit filed by The Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria and five others in the aviation industry.

The four other plaintiffs are Azman Air Services Limited, Air Peace Limited, Max Air Limited, United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited and Topbrass Aviation Limited are the first to sixth plaintiffs.

The first to fourth defendants are Nigeria Air Limited, Ethiopian Airlines, Sen. Hadi Sirika (Minister of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Aviation) and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The judge adjourned proceedings till February 13, 2023.

However, two intervenors/applicants filed an application praying the court to strike out the name of The Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria as a party in a suit, arguing that its inclusion in the suit “is invalid”.

On November 15, the court granted the plaintiffs an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines from proceeding with the establishment of Nigeria Air Limited.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa also ordered all parties to the suit to maintain the status quo following the plaintiffs’ motion ex parte in Suit FHC/L/CS/2159/2022.

At the resumption of proceedings Thursday, Mr. Nureni Jimoh, SAN, appeared for the airline operators.

Jimoh’s bid to move his motion on notice for an injunction against the defendants was opposed by Mr. Seun Oriowo for Nigeria Air and Minister of Aviation, Mr. Raji Rasaki for the AGF and Mr. Ajibola Salisu for the intervening applicants.

The judge turned down Rasaki’s argument for an adjournment for lawyers from the AGF’s Abuja office to take over the defence, rather than those from its Lagos office.

Mr. Bassey Attol for Ethiopian Airlines informed the court that he had filed a response to Jimoh’s application, while Salisu’s prayer for an adjournment was opposed by Jimoh, on the ground that “the intervening applicants are not a party to this suit. They interlopers here to disrupt proceedings.”

In his ruling, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held: “I’ve reviewed all the applications before me. In the circumstances, the proper thing to do is for the parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of this suit.”

The court thereafter adjourned till February 13, 2023.

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