The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Nigeria Air project followed due process and is currently at procurement stage awaiting approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Mr Sirika also discredited claims that the government spent $600,000 on the design of the logo after the carrier was unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow in London in July.
The minister spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum.
Mr Sirika said, “In recent months, misinformation, factual errors, insinuations and fabrications have been peddled in both social and print media on the Nigeria Air project.
‘‘These include desirability, inadequate planning, non-consultation with stakeholders, lack of transparency and publications of fictitious amounts allegedly spent by the government on the project, amongst others.’’
He declared that the federal government was determined to clarify these issues and set the record straight.
He explained that the current effort to establish the National Carrier predated the composition of the present FEC and his appointment as a minister.
‘‘Mr President directed the then Ministry of Aviation to commence the process for the establishment of a National Carrier during the Ministerial briefing on the Aviation Sector.
‘‘The ministry set up a committee which came up with the modalities for the establishment of a National Carrier.
‘‘The Committee in its report submitted in September 2015 recommended a private sector-led national carrier with 10 per cent government ownership and non-involvement of government in the management of the airline, but the provision of enabling environment for its operation,’’ he said.
The minister said following approval by the FEC, a consortium of Transaction Advisers (TAs), comprising Airline Management Group Ltd., Avia Solutions Ltd and Tianaero FZE, were appointed in line with best practices.
He said the TAs completed the Outline Business Case (OBC) Report, which was reviewed by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), which subsequently issued the OBC Certificate of Compliance.
According to him, the report has been presented to FEC for consideration to move to the procurement phase and then Full Business Case (FBC), where it will be opened for bidding by investors including ordinary Nigerians.
The minister explained that the estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project was $300 million up to 2020.
He added that the expected initial start–up capital of 55 million dollars was made up of 25 million dollars for deposit for new aircraft and 30 million dollars for working capital from June to December 2018.
According to him, the estimated working capital for 2019 is 100 million dollars and 145 million dollars for 2020 to be provided by the Strategic Equity Partners who are expected to manage the project.
‘‘Certain media publications that 8.8 million dollars was expended at the Farnborough Air show are unfounded, malicious, misleading, mischievous and baseless.
‘‘The TAs for national carrier coordinated the campaign and provided the additional services that included the development of the brand strategy and the media activities relating to the unveiling of the airline.
‘‘Due process was followed in the branding, which included obtaining ‘‘No Objection’’ Certificate with Ref. No. BPP/RPT/18/VOL.1/075 from the Bureau of Public Procurement for payment of N50.8 million for these services is yet to be made.
‘‘No foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo as speculated,’’ he said.
Mr Sirika said the Nigeria Air project was not lacking investors, stressing that institutions and airlines such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus and China-Exim Bank, were some of the interested partners.
He said the desirability of the national carrier was occasioned by the fact that no domestic airline had evolved to fill the vacuum left by Nigeria Airways since it ceased to operate more than 15 years ago.
According to him, only 28 out of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with 83 countries are active and the carrier will give impetus to the emergence of Nigeria as hub for the West and Central Africa.
Mr Sirika said it would promote reliable air transport services and support the growth of the aviation industry and domestic airlines through infrastructure expansion, traffic/routes expansion and manpower development associated with the national carrier.
He added that it would create employment as well as compete with foreign airlines for a share of international routes through competitive pricing thereby reducing capital flight.
The Acting Director-General of ICRC, Chidi Izuwah, said the nation’s aviation sector had the capacity to contribute more than the current 0.6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mr Izuwah noted that in 2017, Emirates Airlines generated 25.8 billion dollars as revenue, while the total revenue generated by Nigeria through its crude oil sales was 20.4 billion dollars.
He said ICRC, as the agency with the responsibility of ensuring transparency in the concession processes, would continue to support the government in its plan to transform aviation infrastructure through Public Private Partnership.
Alleged Gang rape: Court denies Babcock University student bail
A Babcock University student, James Aguedo has been denied bail by Justice Abiola Soladoye of an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court.
The student of Babcock University, James Aguedo, accused of involvement in gang-rape of a student of the University of Lagos (Unilag) was reportedly denied bail when bail applications were made.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Soladoye in a ruling on Thursday said Mr Aguedo, 20, did not provide compelling circumstances as to why the court should grant him bail.
“The essence of bail is to ensure the defendant’s attendance at trial. In deciding an application for bail, certain factors must be taken into consideration such as the nature of the charge and the evidence adduced.
“Grant of bail of a defendant in a criminal offence is not automatic, it is at the discretion of the court.
“I am, therefore, of the view that the application before the court has not shown any compelling or exceptional circumstances to warrant the court exercising its discretion in favour of the applicant.
“The application for bail is hereby refused, and the court shall give this case accelerated trial; I so hold,” the judge said.
NAN reports that Mr Aguedo’s counsel, Lawal Pedro, had on March 25 prayed the court to grant him bail to enable him to write an examination at the Babcock University in April.
He also submitted that the undergraduate suffered from ill-health and needed constant medical attention.
“He has a recurring back ailment. We brought not just a medical report but the history because he has been attending an orthopaedic hospital.
“The prison facility is not conducive for him,” the SAN said.
Mr Pedro had attached Mr Aguedo’s school identity card and admission letter to the bail application dated March 13.
Also attached were a National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Yaba, Lagos, appointment card, history of medical examination and a St Dominic’s Catholic Church’s letter of recommendation.
NAN reports that the student is standing trial alongside Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19 and Osemeka Josephine, 20.
The defendants were charged with serial gang-rape of a Unilag student (name withheld).
According to prosecution counsel, Fehinti Ogbemudia, the defendants committed the gang rape sometime in 2017 within the premises of Unilag.
The alleged victim had on February 26 testified that she was lured by Nwankama who was her roommate to High Rise, a staff quarters hostel, in Unilag.
She said she was gang-raped at High Rise by eight students, and that the sexual assault was video-taped.
According to the alleged victim, she was also blackmailed with the video and further gang-raped on other occasions by the defendants and their accomplices who are now at large.
The five defendants have been remanded in the Kirikiri Prisons since February 26, when they were arraigned.
The case has been adjourned until May 2 for continuation of trial.
Sterling Bank Staff, Olanrewaju Yusuf remanded in prison for N36m fraud
Justice Bello Duwale of the Sokoto State High Court has remanded a Sterling Bank Plc worker, Olanrewaju Yusuf, in prison custody for cheating to the tune of N36 million and issuing of dud cheques.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Yusuf, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Viclibo Ventures, on five counts bordering on the issuance of dud cheque, criminal breach of trust and cheating.
A complainant, Tunde Akinola, had alleged that sometime in January 2018, Yusuf, who worked with the Sokoto branch of the bank requested a N30 million loan for the establishment of a biscuit and juice production factory with a pledge to pay back the money with 10 per cent interest.
Akinola stated that he rallied round friends and colleagues to raise the money, which he gave to the accused via his United Bank for Africa account on condition that the loan should be paid back by March 2018.
Pursuant to the agreement, Yusuf allegedly issued three post-dated Diamond Bank cheques of N10m each and another for N6m, all of which were dishonoured by the bank on presentation.
Yusuf pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
Counsel for EFCC, S.H. Sa’ad, urged the court to fix a date for commencement of trial and asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, but the defence counsel, Ferdinard Okotete, prayed the court to grant his client bail.
Justice Bello, however, ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody and fixed April 25, 2019 for hearing of bail application.
The trial judge further granted an interim forfeiture order in respect of the defendant’s property, pursuant to a motion ex parte filed by the EFCC.
Kenyan family sues Boeing over Ethiopia crash over Ethiopian Airline Plane crash
A family of a Kenyan man, who died in last month’s Ethiopia Airlines crash said it is taking the plane manufacturer Boeing to court in the US.
In all, 157 people died when the Boeing 737-Max 8 went down six minutes after take off on a flight from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
The 29-year-old engineer George Kabau was one of more than 30 Kenyans on board.
At a press conference in Nairobi his siblings said they wanted the company to release emails relating to the plane, which has now been grounded, Reuters news agency reports.
“We cannot replace him, and he cannot and shall not be replaced. But we pray that by what is happening, my parents especially and us as his siblings and all other loved ones, can use his demise to ensure safe travel for all,” said Mr Kabau’s sister.
Boeing is facing three other law suits relating to the Ethiopia crash, including from members of the family of a Rwandan victim.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane nose dived several times before it hit the ground, a preliminary report released a fortnight ago said.
Pilots “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash, according to the first official report into the disaster.
Boeing’s boss has admitted for the first time a failure in the jet’s anti-stall system was a factor in the crash.
But the company has not commented on the legal cases.
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