The concession of four of the viable airports in the country may face, yet another challenge, as one of the bidders for the concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), SIFAX Group of Companies Limited, has approached a Federal High Court in Lagos, to disqualify Tav Airports Holding Company and GMR Airport Limited.
SIFAX Group stated that both firms, owned by the same company, Airport De Paris (ADP), submitted separate bids for MMIA and were shortlisted for the next phase of the concession.
SIFAX, in its submission to the court, contended that this breached the “Specific precept of the RFQ (Request For Qualification)”, which states that no applicant is entitled to bid for any of the specific Assets twice under any guise or form.
The plaintiff sued the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice of Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Minister of Aviation, NAHCO Aviance Plc, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Tav Airports Holding and GMR Airport, as the 1st to 7th defendants. FG announces bidders for three of four international Airports.
The plaintiff said sometime in August 2021, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Aviation, decided to concession Murtala Muhammed International Airport and Cargo Terminals via a Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement on a Build/Rehabilitate Operate and Transfer (B/ROT) basis.
The Plaintiff noted that two consortiums owned by Airport De Paris (ADP), submitted an expression of interest, thus violating the documented strict rules of engagement in the bidding process.
The matter has been assigned to Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa. However, no fixed date has been announced yet, but it was also gathered that the Federal Government is seeking an out of court settlement
Recall that in a letter dated November 3, 2021, addressed to the Minister, Sirika, by Legal Luminary, Chief Femi Falana (SAN), he advised the Minister to disqualify three firms, TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium and ADP, for violating the requests for qualification (RFO) process.
Falana emphasised that contrary to the misleading impression that both TAV and GMR were separate entities, a search on the internet by the law firm revealed that ADP owns 46 percent of GMR and 49 percent of TAV.
He insisted that section 2.2 of the RFQ states that ‘no applicant single or a consortium can be part of more than one bid,’ while section 2.2.3 further clarified that the eligibility ‘shall apply to an applicant and/or to the parties consisting of the applicant i.e. shareholders.’ Falana writes Sirika, ICRC seeks disqualification of TAV, GMR Consortium; ADP from concession
Falana warned that the failure of the Ministry of Aviation to act appropriately on the matter may lead to litigation against the Federal Government.
The aviation unions on its own part had continuously kicked against the airport concession exercise, saying that the whole process is not transparent.
For example, the unions are of the view that the concession, which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Aviation is supposed to be done by FAAN, a situation that negates the law.
Speaking on behalf of the unions recently, Secretary General of National Union of Air Transport Employees NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Abah, said: “Following the stalemate, another approach was proffered which brought about visitations to international airports in other countries being operated under concession. Since our return from the visitations, we have been clamouring for the reconvening of the joint committee to afford the ventilation of the experiences garnered from the visits, but to no avail. Instead, the Minister has now quickened the tempo of the implementation of the concession while remaining under the umbrella of the obnoxious OBC, thereby leaving the Unions and FAAN staff/pensioners in limbo.
“It has, therefore, become imperative for our unions to take actions to safeguard the legitimate interests of the workers to be negatively impacted by the unwholesome concession exercise. It is also unavoidable that our Unions, being corporate citizens, activate a citizens’ rights agenda to prevent abuse of our common patrimony by those in power.”