By ISAAC TERSOO AGBER
THE reasons behind the arrest of top management staff of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on February 12th, 2016, over alleged financial impropriety have been discovered after thorough investigations. Sources revealed that the former NAMA boss, Engr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam, engineered his clique to sap the agency of over N5 billion through shady transactions that were done without due process.
According to sources, revelation of documents indicate that most of the transactions were payments of Customs Duties for goods that were imported, cleared and forwarded for the agency. But the said transactions were non-transparent, according to the sources, as the agency had never really undertaken any “major importation that warranted payments in tens of millions of naira at different times as claimed by the management.”
Meanwhile, the trail of approvals and payments, according to sources, revealed a lack of due process and transparency in approving the sums involved, which, in most cases, were said to be above the approval limits of the Managing Director of NAMA and should have either been referred to the board or the Minister of Aviation.
An example of gathered evidence was a request for payment by Delosa Limited of N39,650,000 for ‘cost of customs clearing and haulage’ of 10×40 FT ZIMU 1169653, ZIMU 4029722, ZCSU 2985348 and GSLU 2025405, TRLU 9623242. Others are CLHU 9634293, FSCU 2596026, TGHU 4687174, ZCSU 2596026, and EMCU 5201729 STC Wire Managers Scale Electronics addressed to the MD in a letter dated October 16, 2014.
Of the total amount in the letter, N25, 941, 750 was submitted as payment for duty, while the balance of N13, 708, 250 was for agency fee. Of the N3,147,866,524.14 paid out by the different chief executives of the agency, the sum of N748,139,386 was expended as ‘expenses made through special officers as mandated to the banks’ while another N298,037,834 was spent on ‘overseas travels’ through a travel agency owned by the wife of one of the arrested officials, Engr. Adegorite.
ALSO SEE: FG appoints Anasi acting NAMA boss
Other revelations show that the NAMA boss swindled the agency through a house property that he pretentiously rented at the GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. But in reality, he bought the house and was paying by installment. Sources disclosed that the agency was paying N50 million for the rent, which was also considered too high.
Investigation has shown that Abdulsalam and his clique, including his predecessor, were said to have signed off payments of over N3 billion on ‘questionable contracts’ between 2013 and 2015. Documents obtained showed that the bulk of these payments were for clearing of containers and Customs duties, which amounted to N2,101,689, 304.14 within the period under investigation. And coupled with the house saga, the agency was said to have been sapped of over N5 billion within 3 years.
The arrest has sent shock waves down the spines of other top officials and stakeholders in the aviation industry the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) over fear of arrest for complicity, as the records are under careful scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has already begun the seizure of assets of the arrested officials, who are still being questioned over the alleged N5 billion sleaze. This is coming after the anti-graft agents had reportedly frozen the accounts of the NAMA managers from the onset of investigation, when they were found culpable of alleged financial misconduct. According to sources, some of the assets seized are petrol stations, and other properties in Lagos worth billions of naira.
Three petrol stations belonging to one of the NAMA officials were seized recently in Lagos and an inscription “Under Investigation by EFCC” clearly labeled on the property. A source said the EFCC has concluded plans to arraign the officials in court soon.
Meanwhile, while the duo of Acting General Manager (Electromagnetic Services), Atiku Abubakar, and Project Manager, Felicia Agubata were have been released with a condition that they report to the EFCC every week, NAMA’s Managing Director, Ibrahim Abdulsalam; Director of Finance and Accounts, Mrs. Clara Aliche; Acting General Manager (Procurement), Muyiwa Adegorite, General Manager (Finance), Segun Nurudeen Agbolade and General Manager (ICT), Akinribido Bolaniran, are still being held by the agency.