A huge debt overhang of about N132 billion is threatening the smooth operations of the second domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, Lagos, with stakeholders fearing the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and Bi-Courtney Limited face-of over the asset could pose severe security and safety risks to travellers and airlines if not properly handled.
AMCON, through its lawyer, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, last week obtained a court order taking over the assets of Bi-Courtney including the MMA2 in lieu of the controversial debt.
But on Monday Bi-Courtney also approached a Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the earlier order granted AMCON.
The request was granted by Justice M. I. Buba of the Federal High Court who discharged and struck out the order obtained by AMCON on the ground that it was an abuse of process and further declared that the order was a nullity. At a media briefing in Lagos, Bi-Courtney Limited denied allegations that it is indebted to the Federal Government and AMCON over the management of the second domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) in Ikeja, Lagos.
Chief Operating Officer of the company, Ms. Bisi Awoniyi, at the briefing said rather than owing the government and AMCON, the firm, which had been awarded a build, operate and transfer (BOT) concession deal on MMA2 by the government was frustrated by breaches of several contractual agreements it entered into with it over the facility, saying it hindered efforts to remain profitable.
She, however, allayed fears that the controversy could degenerate to a level where safety of air travellers would be compromised on the asset.
“We wish to reassure the travelling public of their continuous security and safety within the MMA2 terminal,” Awoniyi said.
Awoniyi said it was important to state the true position of the financials of the concession deal to the public given the recent purported takeover of the MMA2 by AMCON as a result of a court order. According to her, the cumulative impact of the breaches of contractual deals by the Federal Government had led to government owing Bi-Courtney a whopping N132 billion debt.
“Bi-Courtney can affirm that it is AMCON and the Federal Government that owes it N132 billion, which has remained unpaid to this day contrary to the claims by AMCON that Bi-Courtney was indebted to it,” said Awoniyi.
Bi-Courtney described the failed attempt by AMCON to disrupt the operations of MMA2, which she said was the only successful concession in the country, as insensitive and with grave implications for the drive to engender a private sector-led resuscitation of public infrastructure and the nation’s economy.
According to Awoniyi, the continuous operation of the old domestic terminal, now renamed General Aviation Terminal (GAT) by the same government, which was supposed to have been handed over to the firm, was one of such breaches which had robbed Bi-Courtney of so much revenue as some airlines had relocated to the GAT and thus had failed to patronise the MMA2 as originally envisaged.
Awoniyi, who was flanked by the company’s lawyer, Mr. Tola Oshobi, said it was as a result of the losses in revenue occasioned by the breaches by the Federal Government that had led to the inability to service loans from creditors, a trend that had compelled the creditor consortium of banks to transfer the debt to AMCON.
Source : SunOnline