EFCC summons ex-minister Sirika over N3bn Nigeria Air project

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has summoned the immediate past minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to appear before it over the controversial Nigeria Air project, which he claimed had gulped N3 billion.

Sirika is expected to appear before the anti-graft agency within the week.

The former minister had on Arise Television programme on Sunday, June 11 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 it.


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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.

According to reports on the EFCC invitation of Sirika, the anti-graft agency had grilled some officials of the Nigerian Air over the unveiling of the aircraft.

Efforts made by The ICIR to speak with the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, on this development did not succeed as his phone was saying switched off.

However, a ThisDay report stated that Uwujaren confirmed there was an ongoing investigation on the matter, but did not give details.

He was quoted as saying, “I can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation in that regard.”

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

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

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), for instance, had faulted the Nigeria Air project by going to court.






     

     

    When contacted to comment on the House Committee report on the project, the spokesperson of AON, Obiora Okonkwo, told The ICIR, “We in AON don’t want to dabble into  decision of any arm of government.

    “All we are interested in is that anything to be done in the aviation sector should be done right in strict compliance with the regulatory conditions of the Civil Aviation of Authority, and to the best interest of Nigerian aviation sector in particular and Nigeria in general, knowing fully well that the aviation sector is a global village highly regulated.”

    Sirika had, on Friday, May 26, three days to the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, unveiled an aircraft branded Nigeria Air 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.

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