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The crises rocking Nigeria’s aviation industry took a turn for the worse on Tuesday, with airport authorities announcing that they have taken over a multi-billion naira hotel and conference centre built by lawyer and businessman, Dr. Wale Babalakin.
The takeover was announced even as Nigeria’s second largest airline, Aero Contractors, remain grounded for a sixth day and another one, Dana Air, was just resuming after a brief suspension by the Ministry of Aviation.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ,FAAN, said in a statement that it has terminated two leases granted Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, for the development and management of a four-star hotel and conference centre.
FAAN claimed that in two separate letters, dated 19 April 2012, the Authority had informed Bi-Courtney that the two leases had been terminated as a result of breaches committed by the company in the agreements it signed with FAAN.
“By the said agreements, the two projects were to be completed in 2008 but FAAN graciously extended the construction period to July, 2009 but Bi-Courtney still failed to complete the two projects at the expiration of the extended period.
“By that termination order, the demised premises, in respect of the two projects, have reverted to FAAN automatically, in line with the terms of the agreements,” said FAAN in a statement signed by its spokesperson Yakubu Dati.
FAAN said Bi-Courtney had forcefully and illegally acquired part of the premises belonging to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, School, Ikeja to construct the conference centre, despite loud protest by the pupils and parents of the school.
“It was these protests that stopped the company from acquiring the entire premises of the school, which Bi-Courtney had planned to take to another location in Lagos,” FAAN said.
When contacted, the spokesperson of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, Steve Ajulo, said there was a court order restraining FAAN from taking over the property.
“They sent the same letter last year. But there is a court order restraining them from taking any action,” Ajulo said.