Ojikutu asks Senate to investigate UBA, others over Ibrahim’s claims on N35bn fund

As the investigation into the disbursement and implementation of Aviation Intervention continues, John Ojikutu, former commandant, Lagos airport and managing director of Centurion Aviation, on Thursday, asked the Senate to investigate the United Bank for Africa (UBA) on why Jimoh Ibrahim allegedly got such an amount of money at 2% percent interest rate.
Ojikutu, who expressed dismay over the arrangement between the bank and Ibrahim, in a statement, noted that he (Ibrahim), had continued to claim that he got no intervention fund adding that if the claim is found out to be true, then UBA in cooperation with the facilitators of the fund should be investigated.

 

According to him, ‘the current investigation into the Aviation Intervention Fund is not different from the one conducted on the same fund in 2012 following the Dana airlines aircraft accident. What should be cleared to most discerning minds watching and listening to the drama playing out at the NASS public hearing is that certain politically exposed persons, without the knowledge of the aviation ministry, got the ears of the Presidency to give intervention funds to some airlines which they had interest in.

“Jimoh lbrahim had claimed in 2012 Public Hearing as he has also said at on going one that he did not get any intervention fund from government. However, he got a loan of N35bn at 2% interest to buy off the debt of over N40bn owed in UBA by the defunct Virgin Nigeria.  Should the Senate Public Hearing now find Jimoh lbrahim’s claim to be correct, as it is being suggested, it probably meant that his loan was cleverly converted to intervention fund by the UBA and the politically exposed facilitators of the funds”, he said.

He is now praying the Senate Committee on Aviations to among other things: (1) find out the role of UBA in particular, in the facilitation and disbursement of the fund? (2) find out the actual debt portfolio of Virgin Nigeria, if any, before its defunct? (3) find out why UBA chose to give Jimoh lbrahim a loan as aviation intervention at 2% which the CBN has pegged its lower rate at 6%? (4) Above all, why the Ministry of Aviation was deliberately sidelined in the facilitation of the fund with the Presidency and the disbursement to the airlines?

Ojikutu noted that ‘if Jimoh lbrahim is justified in his claim, UBA should be made to return the fund of N35bn with the interest of 6% if indeed it converted Jimoh lbrahim’s loan to Aviation Intervention Fund.

“By sidelining the ministry of aviation in the facilitation and disbursement of the intervention fund was possibly to avoid the payment of the airlines recurring debts to the agencies under the ministry. We must be very clear in our mind that the main objective of the intervention fund, was to pay debts on bank loans and those owed the services providers.

“If we must sustain the Nigerian civil aviation industry, there must be financial discipline, enforced by the responsible aviation authority on the participants both public & private without interference from any political office holders and the politically exposed persons with keys to the doors in the Presidency”, he added.
 By: Sade Williams

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