Frozen FAAN Accounts: Unions To Paralyse Activities At Airports


Activities at the country’s airports may be paralysed if a Federal High Court sitting in  Lagos, South-West Nigeria, today, fails to defreeze the accounts of the Federal Airports  Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, the workers warned yesterday.

The court had ordered that all FAAN’s accounts in the 24 banks in Nigeria should be  attached to satisfy a debt of N7.9 billion being owed a construction company, Sanderton  Ventures Limited.

Since then, FAAN’s workers say that they have not been paid and the lack of funds has  paralysed some of their activities.

“We understand that the court will be in session on 23 September 2010 (today), we are  helplessly watching the proceedings and we believe that the garnishee order will be  lifted. But if it is not lifted by tomorrow (today), we are going to decide on the option  of grounding the operations of FAAN because we don’t have anything to work with, there is  no money to run our overhead cost.

“And to carry out our duties effectively, we are drumming it to the world to know so that  by the time it happens they will not blame us,” Chairman of Air Transport Services Senior  Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Ekanem Ekanem said yesterday.

Ekanem said that the court order to freeze FAAN’s account has crippled the credit  facilities of FAAN as the agency no longer has access to its account to carry out its  duties, adding that its operations have collapsed.

What led to the court order started sometime in September 2001 between the Minister of  Aviation representing the Federal Government on the one hand, and the FAAN on the other,  both acting jointly as guarantors and Sanderton Ventures Limited which was given a  construction work to design, develop, finance, construct, complete and commission,  operate, manage, maintain and transfer the new Murtala Muhammed Domestic Airport Terminal  One for 10 years after a construction period of 18 months.

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It was agreed between the parties that any dispute concerning the agreement shall be  referred and finally settled by arbitration.

A dispute arose on 23 May 2002 when the then Minister of Aviation terminated the contract  between the two parties.

Consequently, the plaintiff, Sanderton, submitted the matter for arbitration. Therefore,  arbitrators were appointed. Many cases were filed by the Aviation Minister as to the  composition of the arbitrators. All the legal actions were resolved in favour of  Sanderton Ventures.

At the end of the proceedings, the panel of arbitrators consisting Justice E. O. Ayoola,  Justice M. O. Onalaja and a lawyer, Wole Olufon, awarded the sum of N2.6 billion in  favour of Sanderton at the rate of 22.5 per cent per annum interest from May 2002 until  the date of the award and thereafter at the prevailing charges.

For Sanderton to reap the fruit of this judgement, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,  Barrister Olu Daramola from the chambers of Afe Babalola, SAN, filed an application  before the court for the funds of FAAN in any bank in Nigeria to be attached to satisfy  the judgement.

By the time the application was filed the judgment sum had risen to N7.9 billion.

—Simon Ateba & Busayo Amoran

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