Sacked aviation agencies’ directors drag FG to industrial court, tag removal ‘illegal’

Some staff of the aviation agencies recently relieved of their appointments have dragged the Federal Government to an industrial court saying that their appointments were statutory and that they should be allowed to finish the remainder of their tenure.

In separate suits filed by their lawyer, Patrice Akwara said they should be reinstated or paid the salaries of what they would have earned if they remained in office for the years stated in their employment letters.

The case is against the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB). The case begins on Friday.

In one of the appointment letters sighted by Aviation Metric to some of the directors in the agencies and signed by Director of Human Resources Management, Mrs M.N. Nwokocha of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, dated May 23, 2023, read in part, “I am directed to inform you that following the approval of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari on the reorganization of Aviation agencies, the Honourable Minister of Aviation has approved your appointment as the director in Nimet) of (portfolio name withheld).”

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“The appointment which is for five years and with effect from May 23, 2023, may be renewed for a second tenure on the recommendation of the Board for the approval of the Honourable Minister. Please, accept my best wishes and congratulations on your appointment”.

Some of the affected directors who spoke to our correspondent said they decided to go to court not because they were interested in fighting the government but to seek redress for the injustice done to them as they asked the court to intervene in the matter by reinstating or paid them what would have accrued to them for the period they would have remained in office.

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As a senior lawyer, they said the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo would have also taken the same action to allow for justice just as they called on him to apart from the judicial process, he should intervene to resolve the matter amicably.

Recall that Keyamo had in December 2023 caused a gale of removal from office of all the Chief Executive Officers and the directors of all the aviation agencies in one sweeping announcement.

The Minister replaced all of them with people he felt comfortable working with, which is the usual case with newly appointed Ministers.

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Wole Shadare