TopBrass Aviation, a charter operator, has filed contempt charges at the Federal High Court in Lagos against aviation parastatals, Seagold Investment Limited; a pilot with the presidential fleet, one Captain Baba Mohammed personally; the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA), Captain Usman Mukhar personally; Aero Contractors and Managing Director of Aero Contractors; Captain Ado Sanusi personally for allegedly flouting an existing order of the court.
Managing Director of TopBrass, Captain Roland Iyayi, sued the accused for flouting a ruling concerning two aircraft, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 with MSN 613, registration number 5N-TBB and Bombardier Dash 8 Q 300 series with MSN and with registration number 5N-TBC.
Aviation agencies sued by the company included the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Iyayi told some select journalists in Lagos that the airline had secured a court injunction at the FHC presided over by Justice C.J. Aneke in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1658/2015, which restrained all the defendants from tampering with its assets, two Dash-8 Q-300s with registration 5N-TBB with MSN 613 and 5N-TBC with MSN 614.
A certified true copy of the plaintiff’s prayers made available to journalists revealed that TopBrass had approached the court praying that it should give an order for the preservation from the repossession of two Bombardier Dash 8Q 300 airplanes leased by virtue of an Aircraft Sublease Agreement dated August 26, 2011, with the first right to purchase to the plaintiff by virtue of a Purchase Option Power by the Hour Transfer, Ferry Flight and Additional Services letter dated August 26, 2011 presently being operated by the plaintiff at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport or within any other airport within the jurisdiction of the honourable court, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
TopBrass also seeks an order restraining the 1st defendant, their agents, attorneys, officers from taking possession and delivery of the 2nd and 3rd defendants, pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
The airline also seeks an order of injunction restraining the 4th defendant, NCAA, from granting clearance for the repossession or de-registering the 2nd and 3rd defendants pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
He added that TopBrass prayers were granted and that the matter was adjourned till February 9, 2016.
Speaking further, Iyayi stated that on July 11, 2018, TopBrass went back to the Federal High Court presided over by Justice M.S. Hassan, asking the court to extend the orders made by the court on December 2, 2015, asking the court to preserve the 2nd and 3rd defendants from repossessing to NCAA, FAAN, NAMA and Captain Baba Muhammed cited parties pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He said Justice Hassan granted TopBrass’ prayers.
The judge held that the first injunction granted by Justice Aneke J. remained valid and binding on all parties in the suit as well as any party who may want to tamper with the subject matter of the suit.
The court ordered that the said order be served on all the parties in the application and the case was adjourned till September 25, 2018.
Explaining in details the crux, Iyayi said TopBrass had invested over $12,000,0000 on the finance purchase agreement it entered into with Seagold for acquisition of the assets and were being frustrated allegedly by those served the contempt charge.
“When TopBrass engaged with Seagold international, we entered into a finance purchase agreement with Seagold, separate and distinct from an operate lease agreement. In this particular context, rather than pay a standard operating lease fee of $80,000 per aircraft per month at the time, TopBrass was paying $210,000 per aircraft per month and the tenure of the lease was for 24months.
“During the period of the lease, TopBrass provided Seagold with a letter of credit to the tune of $1.3million. At the same time, TopBrass signed and IDERA, Irrevocable Dereigstration Authority in Favour of Seagold such that should we default in the 24 month-period Seagold would have had an unfettered access to the aircraft for repossession. Fortunately, over the 24-month period, there was no default.”
He explained that trouble started when Seagold allegedly in collusion with Captain Baba Mohammed reneged on an agreement reached for the aircraft acquisition trying to repossess it, which led Topbrass to go to court seeking redress.
However, despite the subsisting court order, he purported that NCAA had removed the aircraft from its register, and an engineer allegedly working for Captain Baba simply named Saturday had physically erased the registration number of both aircraft.
Despite the ruling of the court, FAAN in a letter on September 5, 2018 with Ref: FAAN/1600/001331 signed by Dr. Clifford Omozeghian, had released the aircraft to Seagold Investment Limited, which had gone on to allegedly move the aircraft, despite the court order, to the Aero Maintenance Hangar where it currently sits.
General Manager Public Affairs, Sam Adurogboye, when contacted said TopBrass and all the parties would meet in court, stating that they were not afraid of being sued.
“I cannot comment on the matter, only to say that we are the CAA and we are for everyone and are not biased, but since the matter is in court, there is a process and a bailiff that will execute the court’s ruling. I cannot be discussing this in the media. Since he is in court, the process should take its cause, we are not afraid to be sued or to sue,” he said.