EFCC quizzes former Aviation minister Hadi Sirika over alleged N8bn fraud

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly quizzed the former minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged N8 billion money laundering.

Sirika reportedly accepted an invitation from the EFCC On Tuesday, April 23, and showed up at the commission’s Abuja office, where he was interrogated.

It was learnt that the former minister is currently meeting with EFCC investigators to answer questions on alleged fraudulent contracts he awarded to Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika.


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A source within the EFCC told the Punch that “Sirika was taken into our FCT custody. He is currently meeting with EFCC investigators over the alleged N8,069,176,864.00 aviation ministry contract fraud.”

Another source alleged that the latter’s company carried out the aviation ministry contract fraud with his younger brother, Abubakar.

In December 2023, President Bola Tinubu dismissed several senior aviation officials due to widespread fraud in the ministry.

Those affected included managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); Kabir Yusuf Mohammed, managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Tayib Adetunji Odunowo, director-general of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) Akinola Olateru,  director-general of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) Mansur Bako Matazu and rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Alkali Mahmud Modibbo. 

According to the statement, the director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nuhu, was suspended from office to enable the EFCC to conduct an unfettered investigation into his activities and other senior officials of the agency.

Tinubu directed Chris Najomo to assume office as the acting director-general of the NCAA.

The ICIR reported on June 15, 2023, that EFCC summoned ex-minister Sirika over the N3 billion Nigeria Air project.

The former minister on an Arise Television programme on Sunday, June 11 2023, argued that of the N5 billion budgeted for the project take-off, only N3 billion was released, contrary to the speculation that the Aviation ministry had spent N85 billion on the failed Nigeria Air project.

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The bulk of the expended funds, according to Sirika, was channelled into consultancies, salaries, and administrative costs associated with setting up the national carrier.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives committee on aviation had criticised the unveiling of the Nigeria Air aircraft, with the latter labelling it a “fraud,” the ICIR reported.




     

     

    This is as aviation unionists called for Sirika to be probed.

    The former minister unveiled an aircraft branded Nigeria Air on Friday, May 26, three days before the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, amid controversies over its specification, documentation, ownership, and technical agreement.

    The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the regulatory body, had on June 4 reportedly disclosed that the airline was still in the first stage of a five-phase process of obtaining an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to operate as a commercial airline.

    The ICIR‘s efforts to speak with the EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Sirika’s arrest were unsuccessful. He did not respond to calls or messages sent to his phone.

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