Planned concession of the ground handling business of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, in Lagos, by the Federal Government has hit a wall as a firm, the Sifax Group of Companies Limited, parent company of Sky Power Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc, has approached a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking disqualification of two other companies involved in the bidding process.
Sifax is one of the firms that had placed their bid in the concessioning process, along with other aviation companies.
In the suit before the court, the company is seeking the disqualification of two other bidders; Tav Airports Holding Company and GMR Airport Limited owned by Airport De Paris (ADP) for submitting separate bids for MMIA, on allegations that they have already been named and shortlisted for the next phase of the concession.
Sifax, in its submission argued that this breached the “specific precept of the RFQ” (Request For Qualification), which states that no applicant is entitled to bid for any of the specific assets twice under any guise or form.
Sifax also joined in the suit the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice of Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Minister of Aviation, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCo) Aviance PLC, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Tav Airports Holding and GMR Airport as the 1st to 7th defendants.
According to the plaintiff in the originating suit, ‘sometime in August 2021, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika decided to concession MMIA, Lagos and Cargo Terminals via a Public Private Partnership(PPP), arrangement on a Build/Rehabilitate Operate and Transfer (B/ROT) basis.
‘that two consortiums owned by ADP Airport De Paris submitted an expression of interest thereby violating the documented strict rules of engagement in the bidding process,’ it read.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.
Already, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had announced three bidders for three out of the four airport and cargo terminals approved for concession after the Request for Proposals (RFP) of the phase of the Nigeria Airports Concession Programme, (NACP).
Controversy surrounding the bidding process ahead of the concession of the airports had opened up earlier in November when human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN had written to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, seeking the disqualification of the three companies, allegedly owned by ADP Airport De Paris.
The letter dated November 3, 2021, by Falana advised the minister to disqualify three firms, TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium and ADP for violating the Requests for Qualification (RFO) process.
Falana said in the letter that two consortium owned by ADP Airport De Paris submitted expression of interest in a public notice published by the Ministry of Aviation in August 2021, but noted that the first consortium led by TAV Airport Holding, ADP owns 49 per cent of its shares, while the second submission done by GMR Airports Limited, ADP also owns 46 per cent of the company’s shares.
Falana pointed out that contrary to the misleading impression that both TAV and GMR were separate entities, a search on the internet by the law firm revealed that ADP owns 46 per cent of GMR and 49 per cent of TAV.
Falana cited Section 2.2 of the RFQ which states that, ‘No applicant single or a consortium can be part of more than one bid,’ while section 2.2.3 further clarified that the eligibility ‘shall apply to an applicant and/or to the parties consisting of the applicant i.e. shareholders.’
The lawyer further warned that the failure by the Ministry of Aviation to act accordingly on the matter may lead to litigation against the Federal Government.