The judicial panel set up by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to review the $235 million fine slammed on the two British airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways has set aside the fine because the issue happened before NCAA became an autonomous agency.
NCAA had ordered the two airlines to pay the fines alleging that the two airlines ripped off travellers through its passenger fuel surcharge for flights in 2004.After the imposition of the fines by the aviation regulatory body, the carriers had raised objections, which resulted in the setting up of the panel headed by a retired chief judge.
The Panel, chaired by retired Justice George Oguntade of the Supreme Court of Nigeria held that the NCAA Act of 2006 could not take action on a matter that was alleged to have been committed in 2004. In a 20 page judgment, the panel set aside the fine.
Other members of the panel were Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, a respected and accomplished administrator, graduate of public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and international businessman, who is conversant with business processes and international issues of this nature; Alhaji Bala Ibn NaAllah, is an accomplished lawyer, skilled pilot and former member of the House of Representatives who served on the Aviation Committee and KGB Oguakwa, a lawyer and former ranking member of the House of Representative who served as Chairman, House Committee on Aviation and also the House Committee on Tourism and Culture. Calistus Uwakwe, who served as Secretary on the Panel
Speaking to reporters after the verdict was given in Lagos yesterday; Uwakwe said the verdict was a unanimous decision of the panel.
Uwakwe noted that the panel held that the allegations against the airlines proved by the NCAA, adding that, “unfortunately, the panel could not uphold the fines and other sanctions because the violation occurred between August 2004 and March 2006, whilst the provision of the law at that time prescribed a penalty of cease and deceased order”.