For the second time in two weeks, officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) vandalised the advert billboards placed by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) on the hotel project at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) on Saturday.
A statement by Steve Omolale-Ajulo of BASL said the agency’s officials with about 60 hired thugs also invaded the premises of MMA2, where they allegedly assaulted the workers, damaged a video camera and seized many handsets belonging to the workers.
Omolale-Ajulo further explained that “They swooped on the billboard barely 15 minutes after it was reinstalled and vandalised it before taking it away in a van.
“They had earlier vandalised the same advert billboards on the hotel project and another on the pedestrian bridge on Thursday, June 6, this year, despite a subsisting court order by Justice Stephen Adah of the Federal High Court, Ikeja Division, given on November 15, 2011.
“But on Saturday, the FAAN officials stormed the site of the hotel project in several vans, buses and a fire truck and once again pulled down the billboards, causing heavy traffic jam on Airport Road.
“Angry that the action was being recorded on video camera and mobile phones, FAAN’s officials and their hired thugs pursued BASL’s workers they suspected were doing so into the premises of MMA2 and beat them up while attempting to seize their cameras and phones.
“In the process, many of our workers were seriously injured, while a video camera belonging to BASL’s Communications Department was seized from the cameraman, damaged and taken away on the excuse that he was recording the vandalism of the billboards.
“They moved from the gate to the Cargo Shed of MMA2, where they assaulted many of the workers, who trooped out to witness FAAN’s show of shame, injuring them in the process. BASL officials reported the assault to the police on Saturday.
“You will recall that on 15th November 2011, in a case titled Bi-Courtney Limited vs. The Managing Director Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, the issue of FAAN’s right to pull down advertisements installed by Bi-Courtney came before the Federal High Court for resolution.
“In a comprehensive judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Adah, the court decided that under the agreement, FAAN had no right whatsoever to take laws into its own hands. If there are any dispute between FAAN and Bi-Courtney, this dispute must be resolved by arbitration in accordance with Article 22 of the concession agreement.
“His Lordship specifically held that: ‘The sum of it is whether the Defendants can in any dispute relating to the concession agreement take action to resolve disputes without resorting to Article 22 of the said agreement for dispute resolution mechanism. It is obvious in the light of the said agreement that the Defendant cannot so act … It is ordered also in consequence of this that the parties should refer their dispute for amicable settlement as prescribed by their agreement’.”
FAAN and Bi-Courtney have been in constant dispute over the concession agreement. The following judgments were resolved in favour of Bi-Courtney: In 2009, the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria and FAAN to hand over the General Aviation Terminal to Bi-Courtney in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/50/2009 delivered on March 3, 2009.
There have been four appeals against this judgment all resolved in favour of Bi-Courtney. The orders contained therein are yet to be obeyed by FAAN.