In a recent twist, Justice John Tsoho, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, has reversed the decision to transfer the suit of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) against Nigeria Air to Abuja citing a fundamental flaw in judgement given by Justice Omotosho.
According to Justice Tsoho, Nigeria Air concealed some facts which rendered the judgement for transfer of the case to Abuja invalid.
The case is expected to continue in the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The letter from the Chief Judge’s Chambers which was addressed to Dr. Alex A. Izinyam (SAN), resolved that the matter is now to continue in the Federal High Court (FHC) Lagos.
The letter Re: Judgment In Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/271/2023 between the Registered Trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria & 5 ORS V. J.T. Tsoho, drew their attention to the non-disclosure by the counsel’s clients that there was a pending motion for the transfer of the case, while making an administrative application to the same effect.
The letter, signed by the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice John T. Tsoho, OFR, read: “Please refer to your letter dated 4th May, 2023 on the above subject matter. It has reported delivery of Judgment in the aforementioned suit by Hon. Justice J.K. Omotosho on 27th April, 2023, dismissing the said suit for lack of a cause of action and abuse of court process.
“The Plaintiffs in the said suit challenged the 1st defendant, J.T. Tsoho – Chief Judge of the Federal High Court) who acted in his Judicial capacity by transferring Suit No. FHC/LICS/2159/2022 from Lagos to Abuja Judicial Division.
“While noting the dismissal of Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/271/2023, may I humbly draw your attention to my earlier letter addressed to you, dated 9 March, 2023, particularly to paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 thereof regarding Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1999/2022. This is to the effect that non-disclosure by your clients that there was a pending motion for the transfer of the case, while making an administrative application to the same effect, rendered the application fundamentally flawed.
‘As a result, I resolved to reverse the transfer of the case, but for the pendency of Suit No. FHCIABJ/CS/271/2023.
“Therefore, following the dismissal of Suit No.FHC,ABJ/CS/271/2023 by Hon. Justice Omotosho, the transfer of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/2159/2022 is hereby cancelled. Accordingly, the case file in respect of the said suit is hereby remitted to the Federal High Court, Lagos for hearing and determination of the pending application for transfer by Hon. Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa.” It read.
It will be recalled that earlier in the year, AON had filed a suit at the Federal High Court Lagos against the Federal Government including the former minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, over the execution of the Nigeria Air project.
Even though AON had gotten an order stopping the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) from issuing Air Operating Certificate (AOC) to Nigeria Air, for not meeting the standard operating procedure, the then Minister got another judgement approving the transfer of the case to Abuja, which the airlines strongly opposed.