A civil society organization, the Centre for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), is urging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the alleged fraudulent launch of Nigeria Air and hold former President Muhammadu Buhari accountable.
CHRAN is also calling for the immediate arrest and investigation of the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and all individuals implicated in the scam to face legal consequences if found guilty.
In a statement released by CHRAN Chairman, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, and Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Comrade Vincent Aluu, the organization expressed its concerns about the criminal nature of the launch, which occurred on the final day of Buhari’s presidency, and described it as an attempt to defraud the people.
According to the statement, on May 26, 2023, Nigerians woke up to the news of the launch of a new national carrier, Nigeria Air, with an Ethiopian Air registration number.
CHRAN highlights that within 24 hours of the alleged launch, the airline was observed among the Ethiopian Air fleet, based on the confession of Nigeria Air’s acting Managing Director, Captain Dapo Olumide, and the findings of the Aviation Committee in the House of Representatives.
The organization is shocked by the revelation that the launched airline was rented from Ethiopian Air for public display and that the entire endeavor reportedly cost over N140 billion without any tangible results.
After a thorough review of the process, CHRAN concludes that the entire exercise was fraudulent, intended to divert public funds, and characterized by a lack of transparency and professionalism. It warns that if left unaddressed, this scandal could bring disgrace and damage Nigeria’s reputation in the eyes of the international community.
CHRAN calls on the EFCC and the ICPC to promptly summon former President Buhari for questioning, demanding that he clarify his involvement in the sham and explain how over N140 billion was allegedly expended on a fraudulent project under his supervision.
By conducting a thorough investigation, these anti-graft agencies can ensure accountability and transparency, reinforcing public trust and deterring future acts of corruption.