PRIVATE jet owners and non-scheduled airline operators in Nigeria have taken the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to a Lagos High Court to restrain them from enforcing the collection of new fees the agency announced few weeks back.
Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that they assembled a strong team of lawyers to defend their rights against the illegality of the imposition of luxury tax on private and chartered plane operators.
According to Mohammed Tukur on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, non-scheduled airline operators are seeking an injunction restraining the NCAA or any other agency from collecting the illegal and outrageous fees. Tukur, who is a stakeholder, said, “Yes, the non-scheduled airline operators are going to court to stop the government from collecting the illegal fees.”
We gathered that another stakeholder, Captain Mohammed Joji sent a letter to Fola Akinkuotu explaining to him that the new fees are not only illegal but the law quoted by the agency to justify them is wrong.
NCAA in two circulars had informed non-scheduled operators that: “In compliance with the provisions of Section 30(2)(9) and (S) of the Civil Aviation Act of 2006, all foreign registered aircraft engaging in non-scheduled operations, shall from now on pay $4,000 as fees under the provisions of the law. They reported that the fees shall be paid in advance and prior to any departure.”
Thus, we learnt some of the operators who used their jets for chartered purposes suspended their operations few days ago following the enforcement of the luxury tax on Monday, November 18, 2013 by NCAA and NAMA (Nigerian Airspace Management Agency).
“Charter airline operators and jet owners have gathered a team of strong lawyers to battle the Federal Government at the Federal High Court in Lagos over the legality of the $4,000 tax the NCAA recently imposed on them. They described the law as draconian and amounts to double taxation and illegality. NCAA filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the reluctance of the private operators to pay the levies. They argued NCAA made a mistake by taking the matter to court. And are ready to expose the illegality of everything they have been doing.”
In an originating summon dated September 22, 2013, the plaintiff (NCAA) is praying the court to determine whether by true construction of Sections 30(2)(9) and 30(5) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, it is empowered to impose fees on all foreign and Nigerian registered aircraft engaged in non-scheduled operations. The agency deposed that the payment is to take effect from the date of the issuance of the order.
– FEMI OYEWALE