AFTER declaring that it would meet Topbrass Aviation in court over alleged tampering with two Bombardier aircraft, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, has said that the regulatory agency stands with its decision to deregister two aircraft of Topbrass Aviation.
Topbrass has filed contempt charges against the regulatory agency, Seagold Investment Limited, a pilot with the Presidential fleet, one Captain Baba Mohammed personally, its Director General, Captain Usman Mukhar personally, Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi personally, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The CAA was accused of deregistering two aircraft, Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 with MSN 613, registration number 5N-TBB and Bombardier Dash 8 Q 300 series with MSN and with registration number 5N-TBC and also exposed the aircraft to be stripped off its registration number by one Engineer Saturday allegedly in cahoot with a defendant as well as moving the aircraft from its parked spot at the GAT to Aero a Hangar despite a court order restraining it.
The NCAA DG, Usman said that the Nigerian operator of the aircraft violated the agreement it reached with the lessor, just as he insisted that no aircraft was stolen at the Murtala Muahmmed Airport (MMA),Lagos as claimed by Topbrass.
Speaking to an organisation not Nigeriaflightdeck at the agency’s headquarters at the Lagos Airport yesterday, Usman declared that the regulatory authority’s action was in line with the Cape Town Convention, adding that the lessee already signed an agreement with the lessor and NCAA before taking possession of the two aircraft as required by the law.
He disclosed that the deregistered aircraft had already been flown out of the country in line with the agreement Topbrass had with the lessor, stressing that NCAA would always abide by the law.
However Usman wondered why Iyayi accused the regulatory body of working against the company’s interest.
He said: “Information reaching us indicated that Topbrass claimed the aircraft was stolen from Lagos Airport, but this is not true. No aircraft was stolen in Lagos. NCAA is not in the process of conniving with anybody and those aeroplanes in question are no longer under the registration of NCAA because they have since long time be deregistered in line with the provision of the adherer, signed by the person who is making the allegation, giving NCAA the power in line with the Cape Town Convention to deregister and also assist for the repossession of the aircraft when there is default without making any reference to that operator.
“All the actions carried out by NCAA were in line with the provision of the law. We are a government agency; we don’t have anything to hide. We believe in the rule of law, just as the current administration believes in the rule of law.
He emphasised that no amount of accusation would make the NCAA to renege on its stand on the two aircraft and other critical issues in the system.
He lamented that since 2004 that the issue had been on, the lessor was unable to put the aircraft up for use, saying that with the situation, the lessee and the lessor were losing money.
He explained further that for the aircraft to be put back to use, the company would have to carry out all the required checks on the aircraft for safety reason.
However, Capt. Roland Iyayi, the Managing Director of Topbrass, while explaining to Nigerianflightdeck.com faulted the idea of bending the Cape Town Convention rules to undermine their business .
“When Topbrass engaged with Seagold international, we entered into a finance purchase agreement with Seagold, separate and distinct from an operate lease agreement. In this particular context, rather than pay a standard operating lease fee of $80,000 per aircraft per month at the time, Topbrass was paying$210,000 per aircraft per month and the tenure of the lease was for 24months. During the period of the lease, Topbrass provided Seagold with a letter of credit to the tune of $1.3million to forst all any defaults in terms of lease payment.”
“At the same time, Topbrass signed and IDERA, Irrevocable dereigstration Authority in Favour of Seagold such that should we default in the 24month period Seagold would have had an unfettered access to the aircraft for repossession. Fortunately over the 24month period, there was no default. There was a six month extension initially and then Seagold sent a further 12month extension lease which was executed by Topbrass but they failed to execute and back and at this point, Topbrass parked both airplanes having them declared a dispute with Chevron Nigeria.”
“…We are signatory to the Cape town convention but under these circumstances the Cape town Convention is not applicable because there is a difference between an operating lease and a finance lease because a finance lease is an acquisition spread over a period of time. If all the provisions in the agreement signed does not show default, then there isn’t way you say you want to repossess and to ensure there was no default, that was why we provided the lessor with a standby letter of credit to provide three months leases just in case,” Iyayi said.