Stepping on toes

Despite court order, AMCON denies chairman, Arumemi-Ikhide entry into Arik Air office

Despite court orders granting directors and shareholders of Arik Air Ltd access to the offices, premises of the airline, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, the Chairman/Founder of the airline, was barred from entering the premises on Tuesday.

The chairman of Arik with some of his aides had tried to enter the premises of the airline in line with the court order which granted him access to the premises.

In 2017, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the management of Arik Air and appointed Kamilu Omokhide, a receiver-manager for the airline.

In 2021, Joseph Arumemi Ikhide, and his wife, Mary Arumemi Ikhide (plaintiffs) filed an originating motion dated December 14, 2021, and prayed the court that the duty imposed Omokhide (first defendant) by section 553 of the CAMA 202O to act in the best interest of Arik Air Limited as a whole, includes the duty to act in the best interest of the plaintiffs (Arumemi and Mary Ikhide) as members of Arik Air Limited.

Arumemi-Ikhide also sought an order directing the 1st & 2nd defendants “to allow the Directors and Shareholders of Arik Air Ltd unfettered access to their offices, premises of the Plaintiff, facilities and staff required for the discharge of their functions.”

Following the court order which ruled that the receivership of Arik Air does not preclude restricting access to the premises, the Arik Air founder made an attempt to enter the premises of the airline on Tuesday.

He was however stopped at the entrance by the security guards on duty.

BusinessDay was at the premises on Tuesday when one Tom West who identified as the Chief Security Officer of the airline said there was an order from above not to allow him access to the premises.

In the heated argument, the CSO said he is only answerable to the receiver-manager as one of his employees.

“The receiver manager gave an instruction not to allow you in. I am not aware of the court order,” the CSO said.

He insisted that he cannot give Arumemi Ikhide access to get into the compound as the instruction was from above.

“I’m very sorry that I’m keeping you people under the sun. We have the directive to deny you access. I’m obliged to respect the directive from receiver manager,” he added.

Arumemi-Ikhide had told the CSO that he was not at the premises to harass anybody or cause any problem but to respect the order of the court which granted him access into the premises of the airline.

He said he had a meeting with the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer that he would be coming around on Tuesday and that some offices should be reserved for him which they agreed.

He said he was astonished that he was being denied access into the premises.

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Arumemi-Ikhide said: “I was in the Arik Complex today pursuant to the order of the federal high court in the suit no FHC/L/CS/1175/2021 that I should be given unfettered access into my offices in Arik Air offices order to perform my duties with my team.

“The court having affirmed that notwithstanding the appointment of a Receiver Manager, that the organs of Arik Air remain intact and those organs such as the Board and Shareholders must be allowed to function. It is because of that that I being chairman of the board came to the office today.

“Being aware of the service of the order of court on the company and having met the management led by Capt Roy Ilegbodu (CEO) on Wednesday 4th April 2023 with whom I discussed the orders made by the court and I our intentions to adhere strictly to including the orders of court to be given office spaces.

“We both agreed that the orders of Court must be obeyed. We agreed that I and my team will resume this morning 11th April 2023 to my greatest surprise and shock I was barred entry by Tom West, the CSO, who claimed that he has strict instructions of Kamilu Omokide, the Receiver Manager to deny me and my team access contrary to the orders of court.”

He said every persuasion with certified copies of the orders of court, earlier served on Arik Air by the court was discountenanced.

He added that as a law abiding citizen, they decided not to press any further by ourselves but rather fall back to the processes of the law by reporting to appropriate authorities.

The Chairman later left the premises and proceeded to the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Division of the Nigeria Police Force where he wrote a statement.

He said he would report back to his lawyers who would take up the matter from there.