Hadi Sirika says lawmaker who tagged Nigeria Air fraud asked for 5% shares of the airline

A new twist to the alleged scandal over the establishment of a new national air carrier named Nigeria Air that has hovered around the former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, emerged on Sunday when he said that the House of Representative member, Nnolim Nnaji, who called him out and tagged the project a fraud asked for 5 per cent shares of the airline.

Recall that during the hearing last Tuesday in the House of Representatives, the Chairman, of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji tagged the deal about Nigeria Air as a fraud.

New twist as Sirika says lawmaker who tagged Nigeria Air fraud asked for 5% shares of the airline
Former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika

Sirika was also accused by the acting managing director of Nigeria Air, Captain Dapo Olumide of imposing a fraudulent deal on the nation through the formation of the airline.

Dapo while appearing before the Senate Committee on Aviation revealed that the aircraft reportedly brought into the country penultimate week as belonging to the airline was chartered from Ethiopian Airlines to show off.

This led to calls from many Nigerians demanding that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC investigate Sirika over the allegations.

However, speaking for the first time since the national outburst against him over the airline deal on Arise News Television on Sunday, Sirika alleged that the lawmaker approached him and asked for five per cent shares of the airline for “him and his people”.

“Hon Nnaji asked me that I should give him 5% of Nigeria to carry him along with his people, and I said to him at that time that honourable, you didn’t understand me. This is a bidding process that has taken place. And some people won, So I think he should go to those people and ask for the 5 per cent.”

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Meanwhile, Nnaji in a swift reaction to Sirika’s bribery allegations denied ever asking for five per cent of the deal, insisting that the former minister of Aviation, Sirika, ‘is a drowning man struggling to grab anything on his way to survive the barrage of attacks he has been receiving since his controversial unveiling ceremony of the so-called Nigeria Air.’

Hon. Nnolim Nnaji
Hon. Nnolim Nnaji

In a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday night, Nnaji noted that the former Minister was not happy that he had demanded transparency and due process in all matters relating to the aviation sector, especially the Nigeria Air project.

He said, “Ordinarily l would not have bothered to reply to his allegations of my demand for 5 percent equity in Nigeria Air as he claimed during his interview on Arise Television but l believe l owe my constituents and indeed Nigerians a duty to put the records straight.

“It is on record that last year when the Minister announced Ethiopian Airlines as core investor in Nigeria Air, my committee which was also inundated with petitions from various stakeholders regarding that announcement invited the Minister and his team to furnish the committee with the details of the project.

“The committee requested for the evidence of the bid process that gave Ethiopian Airlines the award and, the full business case as prepared by the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC) which was supposed to spell out the details of all the investors and their equity contributions.

“Sirika at that meeting said Full Business Case was still being worked out by the ICRC and promised to make it available to the committee as soon it was ready which he failed to do before Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON) took the Ministry to court and got injunction restraining it from going ahead with the project.”

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