Reps Suspends Nigeria Air, seeks to prosecute parties involved in alleged Fraud.

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The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has demanded that Nigeria Air, the national carrier, be suspended on alleged fraud charge in regards to ‘Nigeria Air’ project

During the interactive session with some government officials and industry representatives at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, the Committee called for those involved, including the past administration, to be prosecuted. Recall that the unveiling of the national carrier was performed by the former aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on May 26th.

Emmanuel Meribole, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, stated that the so-called “unveiling” was an exhibition of aspiration, not an official announcement, and that no ministry funds were utilized. He also explained that Nigeria Air had not been awarded the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) required to operate as an airline.

The Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Dapo Olumide, confirmed that Nigeria Air had not obtained AOC approval and that the so-called “unveiling” was not an official launch. Olumide added that the approval process was in the first of five phases. The aircraft that was displayed in Nigeria Air colours was a chartered flight that remained in Nigeria for 48 hours as the carrier did not yet have any planes.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), who were present, accused the Ministry of conniving with Ethiopian Airlines, which they deemed detrimental to Nigeria and the local aviation industry. AON questioned the allocation of shares to shareholders since the Nigerian government has allotted N85.2bn but no details of what Ethiopian Airlines and SAHCO had provided have been made public.

Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman of the Committee, read the Committee’s resolutions in which the House of Representatives has directed the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its partners to immediately suspend all operations and actions with respect to Nigeria Air in light of alleged fraud in the project. It also urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to constitute a high-level Presidential committee to review the processes of the whole Nigeria Air project and advise the government on the way forward.

The House also emphasized the need to prosecute all parties involved in the controversial project and advised that some Nigerian Indigenous Airlines be designated as flag carriers to take advantage of bi-lateral air services agreements. Finally, the House suggested that the Nigerian government should raise the total amount required to start the airline, which is put at $250,000,000, without subjecting itself to more ridicule.

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