EFCC Arrests Former Aviation Minister, Over Alleged N8 Billion Nigeria Air Fraud

by Ohepo Ohepo

Hadi Sirika, the former Minister of Aviation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The arrest is linked to an ongoing investigation involving a substantial money laundering case amounting to N8,069,176,864.00.

According to EFCC sources who spoke to The PUNCH, Sirika is under scrutiny for allegedly authorizing fraudulent contracts to Engirios Nigeria Limited, a company reportedly owned by his younger sibling, Abubakar Sirika. The investigation into these allegations is part of a broader inquiry into corruption within the aviation sector during Sirika’s tenure as minister.

This development follows revelations made in January by the current Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, concerning the EFCC’s investigation into the controversial Nigeria Air deal that was finalized by Sirika. The deal had come under heavy criticism, particularly after SaharaReporters disclosed in May 2023 that the aircraft showcased by then-President Buhari shortly before leaving office was over a decade old and owned by Ethiopian Airlines.

The information about the aircraft, identified by Plane Spotters with Mode S Q4005C and Serial Number 40965/4075, raised significant concerns about the integrity of the Nigeria Air project. The Concerned Northern Forum labeled the launch of Nigeria Air as a “half-baked project,” driven by what they described as lies, deception, and corruption, which reportedly cost billions of naira.

Amidst these controversies, Minister Keyamo has indicated that the current administration under President Bola Tinubu does not intend to revive any local airline to serve as the national carrier. Instead, Keyamo emphasized that the government plans to establish a “proper national carrier” moving forward.

This arrest underscores the government’s renewed focus on tackling corruption and reforming the aviation sector to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of Nigeria’s aviation resources and infrastructure.

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