Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has summoned former aviation minister Hadi Sirika, for questioning.
Sirika was the aviation minister under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
It was learnt that the anti-graft agency had also questioned officials of Nigerian Air over the recent launch of the airline in Abuja.
The acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Captain Dapo Olumide, recently revealed more facts about the ‘fraudulent’ launch of the airline by the Buhari-led government at the twilight of the administration.
The administration had unveiled a Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to Ethiopian Airlines as a “Nigerian Air” plane.
SaharaReporters in May reported that the plane unveiled by Buhari as Nigerian Air a few days before he left office, was over 10 years old and belonged to Ethiopian Airlines.
Its registration number is ET-APL.
Information obtained by SaharaReporters from Plane Spotters, a platform which takes an inventory of aircraft, revealed its Mode is S Q4005C and its Serial Number is 40965/4075.
It noted, “The first flight was an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft. Then it became Malawi Airlines on 16th February 2014. It was then acquired again by Ethiopian Airlines in 2015 and has been operating under Ethiopian Air since then.
When Olumide appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation, he confirmed that the aircraft that flew in with the logo of Nigeria Air was chartered from the Ethiopian Airline for the purpose of unveiling the Nigeria Air logo.
Olumide told the Senate Committee that Nigeria did not have an operating licence for full flight operations, noting that the processes to acquire the license were still in the early stages but the Buhari-led government used the chartered Ethiopian aircraft to show Nigerians and investors what the logo looks like.
According to THISDAY, while Sirika was due to appear before the commission within the week to answer questions relating to the launch of Nigerian Air, garbed in Ethiopian colours, the commission had already grilled some supposed officials of the national carrier.
But the spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation but did not give further details.
“I can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation in that regard,” he said.
Sources told THISDAY that the commission would look at the N3 billion sunk into the project though some stakeholders insisted that over N80 billion was expended on the project.
The minister said at a recent Arise News Channel interview that the landing of the Ethiopian aircraft in Abuja was “a marketing strategy.”
“We have already questioned some officials of Nigerian Air. We have invited the former Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.
“We are expecting him within the week,” THISDAY quoted a source as saying.