Air Peace institutes N1.7bn suit against NLC, TUC over flight disruption

The management of Air Peace has slammed a N1.7billion suit against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) before the Federal High Court in Lagos over the alleged disruption of its operations by the unions and its officers.
The airline was asking the court to award it N1billion as general damages, N450million as special damages and N250million as exemplary damages.
Also joined in the suit as defendants were the President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, the President of TUC, Festus Osifoh, Emmanuel Ugboaja and Nuhu Toro. Air Peace was asking the court to declare that given the compassionate nature of aviation ordinarily, and particularly in the current climate of pervasive fear of insecurity over long-distant travels within Nigeria by other modes of transportation, the Defendants’ calculated precipitation of grounding all its flights throughout Nigeria for the precise reason that it was responsible for the majority of air-passenger and good flights in the country to cause substantial nationwide paralysis, constituted condemnable sabotage of the national economy and security.
The plaintiff also asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants by themselves, their agents/servants/privies or otherwise, however, from repeating/continuing the acts of intimidation and coercion against it.
The airline, in an affidavit attached to the suit, averred that on May 3, 2023, its employees on duty were confronted by a noisy mob which invaded their offices, check-in counters and work areas at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos and the Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal 1 (MM1) premises, essentially disrupting their work; disorganising and upturning tables, unplugging and pushing away desktops and personal computers used for employment by the employees, some of who sustained injuries in the melee.
It also claimed that from the songs they sang and the instructions that the apparent leaders loudly issued during the disruption, it immediately became clear that the mob causing the disruptive scene were members of the NLC and TUC, some of whom got into violent altercations, injuring some of its customers and staff who voiced their frustrations at the disruption and frustration of their travel plans by the Defendants’ antics.
The plaintiffs also stated that the defendant’s actions had inevitable ripple effects on its operations in other airports in the country, including the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, and Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, all of which the Plaintiff’s scheduled flights could not take off from or land at.
That the Defendants, as the Plaintiff was to learn later, had some grouse against the Governor of Imo State, Chief Hope Uzodimma, and to “punish him”, decided upon a total shutdown of Imo State beginning from Wednesday, May 3, 2023, as was stated among other things in their joint communiqué of May 1, 2023.
That Lagos is the operational hub and nerve centre of the airline operations, and a direct consequence of the Defendants’ malicious and unlawful invasion of its work areas/offices and forcible prevention of its functions, as detailed above, was the cancellation of its flights billed for different destinations.
Several Airpeace staff suffered physical molestation and incurred bruises which led to their psychological trauma and hospital visitations for treatments, with some having to be excused for some days’ absence from work to recover.
In addition to the financial losses, the Plaintiff has also suffered a grave injury to its business reputation, not only in the eyes of its flying customers but also in those of the general public and its investors.
Its lawyers wrote letters dated May 12, 2023, to the defendants demanding that they promptly make amends for their unjustifiable, grievous and malicious injuries to it, but which demand they have disregarded and are instead threatening more disturbance and harm to its operations.
That the Defendants threatened and intend, unless restrained by the Honourable Court, to continue to intimidate and coerce the Plaintiff’s servants and customers and consequentially cause it more harm and losses.
The plaintiff, therefore, submitted that the defendant’s conduct in the circumstances of this suit and leading to its significant losses are egregiously malicious, scandalous and most deserving of reproach by the award of exemplary damages.
====== LEADERSHIP ======

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