The Federal High Court in Lagos has deferred ruling on two preliminary objections arising from the takeover of Arik Air Limited by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria till May 15, 2017.
AMCON had on February 8, 2017 announced the takeover of the management of the airline.
It explained that the action was taken to save the carrier from collapse and in the best interest of the general public, workers, creditors and other interest groups in the aviation sector.
AMCON had appointed a legal practitioner, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya (SAN) of the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP, as the receiver manager of the airline.
By an ex parte application on February 8, AMCON secured an injunction restraining Arik Air Limited’s “shareholders, directors, creditors, managers, officers, employees, servants, consultants, agents, representatives, privies” from interfering in Opasanya’s power to manage Arik.
But four persons— Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, Chris Ndule, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide and Engineer Sangowawa Olubiyi– who were aggrieved by the court order filed a preliminary objection through their lawyer, Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN) to the suit.
They accused the lawyer representing AMCON and Opasanya, Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), of engaging in professional misconduct and urged the court to void all the processes so far filed by Kanyinsola Ajayi on behalf of AMCON and Opasanya.
The ground of their objection was that Ajayi and Opasanya are both lawyers practising in the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP.
Counsel to Arik, Koku, argued that by virtue of Rule 17 of Professional Conduct of Legal Practitioners 2007, neither Ajayi nor any other lawyer from the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP could appear in a case where Opasanya is a plaintiff.
Opposing the preliminary objection, however, Ajayi argued that “there is a distinction between Opasanya and the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP where Opasanya works and there is no law stopping anyone from the law firm from representing Opasanya.”
Besides, Ajayi filed a preliminary objection challenging the locus standi of Koku’s clients to file the preliminary objection.
He argued that they were no parties in the suit in question which AMCON and Opasanya filed against Arik and the inspector-general of police.
He described them as interlopers who should not be heard and urged the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to dismiss the preliminary objection by Koku’s clients.
After hearing both preliminary objections, Justice Idris adjourned till May 15, 2017 for ruling on the objection.