Nigerians hammer Sirika as Nigeria Air’s MD confirms aircraft was hired


By Abiodun OBA

Some Nigerians on the internet have called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the erstwhile Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, after the Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Dayo Olumide, disclosed that the aeroplane that landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on May 26, 2023, was a chartered one from Ethiopia Airlines.

Olumide made this known while answering questions from senators on Monday, adding that it was launched in 2018 and that his own responsibility was to secure an operating certificate for the airline.

He said, “It is a pleasure to be here and to finally make our position known, where I can clarify all the misconceptions regarding Nigeria Air as it pertains to the technical aspects of it.”

Nigerians have come down hard on the minister and called for his arrest and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

A tweep, Rinu Oduala, wrote, “Nigeria Air” has been declared a fraud after major stakeholders in the deal between Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines denied knowledge of the launch.

“NAMA said that the plane was rented and repainted in Nigerian colours. The plane has since been flown back to where it came from.”

Another tweep, Irunnia, said, “In a sane country, people like Hadi Sirika should be locked up but EFCC will never do that. They will rather arrest anyone they see with an iPhone even the ones with Uk used iPhone 6. This man scammed an entire country, and he is still walking around without fear.”

Brother Barth opined that If Hadi Sirika is not arrested in the next 48 hours over #NigeriaAir fraud and international shame, President Tinubu is a suspect.

“Senator Sirika pushed for this twice, and after the second attempt, a huge dent has been placed on the adventure with the “fraud label”. Lessons for him and everyone involved,” Agboworin wrote.

“Even the government admitted they were fraudulent in what they did. Their justification: a chartered flight to Nigeria can be painted in any colour and with any inscription. Nigeria is not real, Wallahi.”

Recall, Sirika had affirmed at a Federal Executive Council meeting that the national carrier would begin operations before Buhari’s administration winds down on May 29, 2023, despite an order by a Federal High Court in Lagos restraining Nuhu Musa, director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, from issuing an air operator’s certificate to the proposed airline.

He added that the council also approved the sum of ₦3.5 billion for a contract for photometric and taxiway lights for Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt airports.

“Something very significant has happened in the world of civil aviation; part of our road map, the Aviation Leasing Company, has been established and approved by the council.

Contrary to the minister’s claim that the Federal Government will control five per cent equity, while a consortium of three Nigerian investors (MRS, SAHCO and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund) will have 46 per cent, Olumide countered that the aircraft, stirring the conversation did not require a licence and other processes, as it was hired.

© 2023, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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