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Nigeria Air: Reps grill aviation, justice ministries officials today

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has rescheduled its investigative hearing on the controversial launch of Air Nigeria, Nigeria’s national carrier, by the last administration led by Muhammadu Buhari.

The committee had invited relevant stakeholders to the hearing earlier scheduled for Monday in Abuja. However, representatives of most of the stakeholders had left the venue before the arrival of the committee’s Chairman, Nnolim Nnaji, who came about two hours behind schedule.

The stakeholders invited by the committee include the Ministry of Aviation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Ethiopian Airlines as well as aviation fuel (Jet-A1) suppliers.

Nnaji, after his arrival, apologised to stakeholders who waited behind at the venue, asking that the hearing be postponed to 3pm on Tuesday (today).

The Buhari administration had failed to deliver Nigeria Air after eight years, over the controversy that surrounded the national carrier.

The Federal Government had boycotted domestic airlines, under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, and signed a deal with Ethiopian Airlines to float the Nigerian carrier.

The AON had consequently dragged the government and its agencies before a court to stop the process.

The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government on Friday took delivery of the first plane of the country’s national carrier, Nigeria Air, at the twilight of the administration amidst protests from local operators that it was contrary to a court order, which barred the government from taking further action on the project.

Meanwhile, the House has summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefele; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Auditor General for the Federation and the Accountant General of the Federation over payment of N32.5bn to two companies, Messrs GSCL Consulting and Biz Plus without formal records.

The House also summoned Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of several oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Nigeria Agip Oil Company, to appear before it over petroleum deals in the country.

The House’ Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate Alleged Loss of Over $2.4 Billion in Revenue from Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil Export in 2015 Including All Crude Oil Exports and Sales by Nigeria from 2014 Till Date issued the summons at its continued investigative hearing in Abuja on Monday.

Meanwhile, the committee grilled the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Bashir Jamoh, who disclosed to the lawmakers that the Federal Government had yet to claim about $1.7bn judgment debt from a company found guilty of making false declarations about the crude oil it took from Nigeria.

However, Gbillah said records available to the committee showed that the CBN paid N16.5bn each to two companies on the same day, adding that the said amount was withdrawn by the companies within a period of two months.

The chairman stressed the need for the CBN to explain the payments made to the firms, especially when Malami had denied knowledge of the payment.

Gbillah stated that all agencies, officials and companies summoned by the committee have a duty to respond to the summons, noting that though the 9th House is winding down, it can still issue a bench warrant for their arrest.

Jamoh later told journalists that NIMASA was still pursuing the case in court.

He said, “In 2013 when the revenue profile was low, NIMASA was directed from the Attorney-General’s office to coordinate two technical teams to source data on the actual lifting of crude oil and the last destination point to see if there are any discrepancies.

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