Owners of foreign-registered private jets have sued the Federal Government over a plan to ground their aircraft for allegedly refusing to pay over N30 billion in import duty.
According to reports, the private jets’ owners include senior pastors of some popular Pentecostal churches, top business moguls, leading commercial banks, and other wealthy Nigerians.
According to reports, at least 17 private jet owners had gone to court to prevent the federal government from grounding their planes due to their alleged refusal to pay import duties.
Remember that the Federal Government approved the Nigeria Customs Service’s decision to ground their planes in November due to nonpayment of debts.
Following presidential approval, the NCS directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in a letter to immediately ground the affected private jets.
However, the relevant government agencies could not ground the private jets due to inter-agency rivalry and disagreements.
According to the Punch, Customs has been working behind the scenes to perfect the process of grounding private jets whose owners have failed to pay import duty.
Following the NCS’s decision to ground their jets, wealthy Nigerians filed a lawsuit against the government via the foreign shell companies and trustees through which the foreign-registered jets were purchased.
The jet owners are requesting a judicial review to determine whether paying the contentious import duty on their private jets is legal.
The jet owners took the federal government to the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking the court to rule on whether they owed import duty, among other things.
The suit, with the case number FHC/ABJ/CS/1565/2021, has 17 foreign companies of Nigerian jet owners as applicants and the NCAA and Customs as respondents.
The applicants are the Aircraft Trust and Financing Corp Trustee, UAML Corp, Bank of Utah Trustee, Masterjet AVIACAO Executive SA, and Cloud Services Limited.
MHS Aviation GmbH, Murano Trust Company Limited, Panther Jets, SAIB LLC, Empire Aviation Group, and Osa Aviation Limited are among the others.
BUA Delaware Inc, Flying Bull Corporation Limited, Air Charter Inc, Sparfell Luftahrt GmbH, WAT Aviation Limited, and ATT Aviation Limited are also on the list.
However, a hearing date for the suit has yet to be set as the fight between the jet owners and the federal government continues.