Shareholders of Arik Air Limited have filed a N20bn suit against the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines over recent claims of negotiations between them for the takeover of the airline.
Our correspondent gathered that the suit instituted on September 6, 2017 at the Federal High Court, Lagos by Arik’s counsel, Mr. Babajide Koku, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwigwe and Mrs. Ezinne Emedom, named Ethiopian Airlines, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as defendants.
In a statement of claim supported by a 20-paragraph affidavit deposed to by a director of Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue, the airline asked the court to stop the first and second defendants from further negotiations for the takeover of the carrier.
Ndulue stated that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria had taken over the airline on February 8, 2017 and was challenged by the ersthwile Arik management through two suits already pending before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
He said the negotiations by the defendants would distort the outcome of the pending suits.
He stated, “The plaintiff avers that the agreement of the second defendant with the first defendant will be wide ranging and intricately affect every aspect of the plaintiff herein, including but not limited to the day-to-day running, technical as well as financial management, which will affect the plaintiff, being the largest domestic and regional airline in Nigeria.
“The plaintiff further avers that the action taken by the first and second defendants will have a negative effect on the country’s image as the plaintiff, being the largest airline, will be pawned over to another country for management. The negotiations had caused undue hardship and irreparable damage to the Arik Air brand and ongoing investment discussions as well as unbearable distress to the airline’s shareholders and directors.”
The former Vice President of Arik Air, Senator Anietie Okon, on behalf of the shareholders, said Ethiopian Airlines was indulging in an unethical behaviour and conspiring with some people in the government to take over Arik.
“Ethiopian had owed huge debts in the past, which with the support of its own government, had been defrayed; and even currently, it still owes huge debts,” he said.
The AMCON spokesperson, Mr. Jude Nwauzor, told our correspondent that he was not yet aware of the suit but that it was lawful for Arik to express its fundamental rights.