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JUST IN; EX-President Buhari’s Minister invited by EFCC for questioning

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JUST IN; EX-President Buhari’s Minister invited by EFCC for questioning

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In what could be seen as a bold response to series of complaints made by Nigerians over the genuity of the Nigeria Air project, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited the immediate-past Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for investigation into the project.

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EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed this, noted that there was an ongoing investigation on the Nigeria Air project that requires the former minister’s appearance at the anti-graft agency office.

He said the minister is due to appear before the commission within the week to answer questions related to the launch of the national carrier and the alleged N3billion spent on the airline project.

He said, “I can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation in that regard.”

However, EFCC sources said the commission would look at the N3 billion public fund sunk into the project.

The EFCC had already questioned officials of the Nigerian Air over the recent launch of the airline in Abuja.

The sources told LEADERSHIP that, “We have already questioned some officials of Nigeria Air.

“We have invited the former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika. We are expecting him within the week.”

Recall that Sirika had explained on a national television few days ago that the federal government had spent less than N3billion on the Nigeria Air project so far.

The former minister, who stated this while he appeared on Arise News Channel on Sunday, said the total money budgeted for the project in the last seven years was N5billion out of which only N3 billion had so far been released.

Sirika further said the bulk of the money has been spent on consultancies, salaries and administrative costs, stating that the N85 billion figure being bandied around as purportedly spent on Nigeria Air was false and baseless.

On the total money for the establishment of the Nigeria Air, the minister said the total market capitalisation was $200 million out of which all shareholders will pay according to their shares.

He explained that Ethiopian Airlines owns 49 per cent, MRS owns 31 per cent, SAHCO owns 15 per cent while federal government of Nigeria owns five per cent.

The former minister also made it clear that no amount has been paid in cash by any shareholder as the signing of the agreement was ongoing.

On the monies spent by the federal government already, he explained that they would be used as the five per cent equity and if it spend above 5%, the federal government will get a refund.

He also said Nigeria Air won’t enjoy any special tax privileges as all the taxes other airlines are expected to pay will be the same taxes Nigeria Air will be paying.

The minister also accused the immediate-past chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnaji Nnoli, of asking for five per cent shares of the Airline for him and his people.

The minister said Nnoli approached him for five per cent for him and his people (which could be fellow committee members or family members) and he told him to approach the shareholders to buy the shares from them as the federal government of Nigeria is not the owner of the airline.

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