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AVIATION WORKERS SUES FEDERAL GOVT OVER PROPOSED CONCESSION OF AIRPORTS

Four trade unions in the aviation industry have dragged the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) before the National Industrial Court in Lagos over the proposed concession of the nation’s international airports.

The unions in their suit are arguing that the Minister and (FAAN) cannot embark on the concession process without the consent and authority of the Federal Government, the 36 State Governments and the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria.

The claimants in the suit are: The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), 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, Femi Falana (SAN), 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.

They are also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from concessioning the listed airports.

The claimants are further urging the court for 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 unions also contended 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 that the leadership of FAAN has usurped these statutory duties of the Board since the members of the Board were not inaugurated.

The claimants further maintained that that the proposed concession cannot be justified because the terminals require no further investments for the envisaged period of the settlement.

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. At the same time, monthly salaries for FAAN’s 8,000 staff currently stand at over N2.3 billion.

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

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

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