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I Never Asked Him For Any Form Of Bribe, ‘Sirika Deviating From Subject Matter – Rep. Nnaji

Former chairperson of the house of representatives committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, has described the allegation that he requested for five percent stake in Nigeria Air as ill conceived.

Recall that Hadi Sirika, former minister of aviation, made the allegation while speaking on Arise Television on Sunday. “He said (Nnaji) asked me to give him five percent of Nigeria Air to carry him along with his people, and I said to him at that time that honourable, this is a bidding process that has taken place, and some people won,” Sirika had said.

The former minister was responding to the lawmaker’s remarks that the launch of the national carrier was “fraud shrouded in secrecy.”

However, in reaction to Sirika’s claim, Nnolim, in a statement on Sunday, said the former minister came up with the claim because he “remained consistent in demanding that he followed due process”. According to Nnolim, the committee had commenced a probe of the former minister and his team since last year.

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“Ordinarily, l would not have bothered to reply to his allegations of my demand for five 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,” he said.

“It is on record that last year when the minister announced Ethiopian Airlines as the 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 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.

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“Sirika at that meeting said the 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.”

Nnolim said all enquiries were suspended to avoid court contempt.

The lawmaker said he also had an encounter with the former minister when there was a threat of mass resignations by key personnel of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) due to pressures from the ministry to give waivers to Nigeria Air to enable it to secure air operators certificate (AOC). He added that the ploy was for the national carrier to “take off before the exit of the last administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”.

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“I quickly issued a statement warning the former minister against subverting the authority of NCAA because of its severe consequences on Nigeria’s air transport sector,” he said.

“It is also common knowledge that the Nigerian institutional investors he mentioned as participants have all denied him. “It is not strange that Sirika came up with this spurious allegation against my person because l remained consistent in demanding that he followed due process. He should not deviate from the subject matter. Let him tell Nigerians the truth about the contraption he sold to us as Nigeria Air.”

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