Posted by Wole Oyebade | 17 September 2018 | 4,197 times
Two Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft formerly used by Topbrass Aviation Services Limited, a local operator, have been allegedly stolen in Lagos. The airplanes (registration numbers 5N-TBB and 5N-TBC) have been the focus of a legal tussle between the lessor, Seagold Investment Limited, and Topbrass Aviation Services. Some interested parties from the presidency, however, acquired the aircraft contrary to the orders of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
According to The Guardian, the planes have been removed from their lots at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA). They are now stationed at the Aero Contractors’ Maintenance and Overhaul (AMO) hanger but with registration numbers already wiped off. Further investigations revealed that the jets are set for maintenance to enable them to fly out of Lagos to an undisclosed location.
Apparently not unaware of the development, the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday served a Contempt of Court order on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), NCAA boss, Capt. Muktar Usman, Aero Contractors, its Managing Director Capt. Ado Sanusi and a pilot in the presidential fleet, Capt. Baba Mohammed.
The Guardian reports that the two 50-seater airplanes, manufactured in 2004, came into the operations of Seagold in 2005. The company ran the offshore operations of Chevron in Angola, while Topbrass operated for Chevron in Nigeria. In 2011, both companies, orchestrated by Chevron, signed a finance purchase agreement for the two aircraft, for which Topbrass paid $12 million in a 30-month lease tenure, towards fully acquiring the jets.
The Chief Executive Officer of Topbrass, Capt. Roland Iyayi, said his company kept to the terms of agreement but the lessor later failed at execution. Because of this and coupled with Chevron’s alleged desire to repossess the assets for transfer to Aero Contractors on a five-year lease, Topbrass parked both airplanes, declared a dispute with Chevron Nigeria, and approached the court for redress in 2015.
Iyayi said both parties later pursued an out of court settlement in 2017 and renegotiated the terms of agreement. But at the point of concluding the pact, “some interested parties, led by Capt. Baba Mohammed, intervened, telling Seagold not to settle with Topbrass and still assuring that they could recover the airplanes despite our $12 million contribution.”
Reacting, the Chairman of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggission, described the matter as embarrassing, coming at a time countries like Ghana were forging ahead. He, however, said AON does not need to fight the authorities but should rather insist on the right things, to protect the industry and safeguard investment.
•Excerpted from The Guardian report
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