Not even the recent court judgment could tame the fierce battle between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and AIC Limited, owned by Chief Harry Akande, over a piece of land the former leased to the company about 10 years ago for the development of a hotel facility at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
AIC yesterday came to reclaim the land which was taken away from the company but was resisted by FAAN‘s Aviation Security officials, who threw caution to the wind and battled members of the AIC, including throwing stones at Akande.
A forthnight ago, FAAN had won a case against AIC over the land as the Federal High Court in Lagos set aside the decision of arbitration that awarded the company $48 million to be paid by FAAN, as compensation for ejection of AIC from the land.
While FAAN insisted that the land in question belongs to it by virtue of the Federal High Court judgment; AIC also said the court never ordered the agency to take over the parcel of land immediately.
Eyewitness account said FAAN officials bulldosed their way into the barricaded land, pulled down the gates and commenced clearing of the land with two tractors and its personnel.
But the General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, denied that FAAN officials attacked the concessionaire. He said the officials were at the site to ensure security of the place.
He insisted that the land had returned to the agency and FAAN would do everything possible to protect its property.
“Our members of staff were trying to sanitise and clear the area when they were attacked by thugs. We want to ensure that security is ensured at the terminal. The terminal is a secured area and when people want to invade the land illegally, the security officials have the right to prevent that.
“The law should be allowed to take its course and we waited for the judicial announcement and the next thing is for us to clear the place until there is a contrary order. That is the law. An appeal is not a judgment and I think we should be more civilised in our conducts,” he said.
However, the General Manager, AIC Limited, Chief Niyi Akande, described the action of the agency as illegal especially when the company had appealed the Federal High Court judgment on the matter.
Akande alleged that FAAN did not obey the judiciary, which ought to be the last hope of the people, insisting that land matters are not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
He also stated that AIC had gone back to the court to challenge the jurisdiction of the court on the matter, informing that the case would come up for hearing on July 11 at the same court.
He emphasised that the court did not order FAAN to take over the land, adding that the court judgment was yet to be delivered to any of the parties, throwing question on why the companied appealed without seeing the court judgment.