The Centre for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), a civil society organization, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the former President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, regarding his involvement in the alleged fraudulent launch of Nigeria Air. CHRAN has also called for the immediate arrest and investigation of the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, as well as all individuals implicated in the alleged scam, in order for them to face legal consequences if found guilty.
In a statement issued by Otuekong Franklyn Isong, the Chairman of CHRAN in Akwa Ibom, and Comrade Vincent Aluu, the Deputy Director of Public Affairs, the organization claimed that the launch of Nigeria Air, which occurred on the last day of Buhari’s government, was an act of criminality aimed at defrauding the Nigerian people.
According to the statement, on May 26, 2023, Nigerians were informed about the launch of a new national carrier called Nigeria Air, bearing the Ethiopian Air registration number. CHRAN pointed out that just 24 hours after the launch, the airline was spotted among the fleet of Ethiopian Air. The organization expressed shock over the confession made by Captain Dapo Olumide, the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, along with the revelations from aviation industry stakeholders and the Aviation Committee of the House of Representatives. These sources allegedly confirmed that the launched airline was merely rented from Ethiopian Air for a public display and that the entire exercise cost over N140 billion without any tangible outcome.
After carefully reviewing the process, CHRAN concluded that the exercise was fraudulent and intentionally designed to divert public funds. The organization criticized the lack of transparency and the potential damage to Nigeria’s international reputation if the matter was not thoroughly investigated.
In light of these findings, CHRAN called on the EFCC and the ICPC to promptly summon former President Buhari for questioning, demanding that he elucidate his role in the entire affair and provide an explanation to Nigerians. The organization also urged the anti-graft agencies to investigate how over N140 billion was allegedly expended on a fraudulent project under Buhari’s supervision.