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Airport Concession: SIFAX Sues FG, Aviation Minister, Others

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.”

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My vision is driven by the conviction that Governments primarily have responsibilities to perform and must be held to account on improved conditions that meet basic standards of living; employment generation and livelihoods sustainability; whilst balancing socio-cultural peculiarities of the various constituencies in the new world order.

Abiodun BORISADE is the last child of the 4 children of Late Justice Michael Ayorinde BORISADE and wife, Chief Mrs Oyeyemi BORISADE.
Abiodun holds a Bachelor of science degree in chemistry (1997 EKSU); A Masters degree in Environmental Management (Middlesex University, UK. 2002); A Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Lecturing (University of Bolton UK, 2006); A Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (International Institute of Journalism, University of Maiduguri 2019).

Abiodun lectured in chemistry and general sciences at various renowned UK institutions including Hopwood Hall College, Middleton Greater Manchester; City & Islington College, London.

Abiodun BORISADE is Founder and Chief Executive Office of Elise Integrated Consult Nigeria Limited. A popular media brand www.abiodunborisade.com is also under his direct control.

Abiodun served as Technical Assistant to Ekiti government 2011, and is currently serving as special assistant on new media to ekiti state governor.

He is member to numerous reputable professional bodies within and outside Nigeria.

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