Fresh facts have emerged on some of the issues being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.
These include payments of over N3bn on ‘questionable contracts’ and unexecuted projects between 2013 and 2015. Others are monies approved for over-inflated air tickets and non-executed foreign trips.
The EFCC had on Friday arrested the Managing Director of NAMA, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, and four other top officials of the agency in a raid that lasted over nine hours.
The other officials, who have since been taken to Abuja for further interrogation, are the Director of Finance and Accounts, Mrs. Clara Aliche; Acting Director of Procurement, Muyiwa Adegorite; General Manager (Finance), Nurudeen Segun Agbolade; and Project Manager, Felicia Agubata.
According to a source at the EFCC, they are to help unravel how Abdulsalam and his predecessor allegedly signed off payments of over N3bn on ‘questionable contracts’ between 2013 and 2015.
The anti-graft agency, acting on a petition, had swooped on the agency. The petition is titled, ‘A clarion call for investigation of financial recklessness in the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, which has affected the performance of the agency and provision of efficient safety services,’ written by an undisclosed stakeholder.
EFCC lamented that the alarming and reckless manner with which, “the present and the immediate past chief executives of NAMA have acted in expending public resources is frightening.”
In the said petition, the petitioner, who is said to be a top official of NAMA, warned that if immediate action was not taken, the agency “may soon be unable to provide navigation and air traffic services, among other core mandates of the agency, which would affect and compromise tremendously the safety of the flying public.”
Reports say that the EFCC is also investigating the payment of alleged over-inflated overseas tickets and non-executed foreign trips.
This is said to entail the use of a travel agency company without compliance with due process “to siphon money through payment for foreign tickets.”
The Commission is also alarmed that between January 2013 and December 2014, a sum of N300m was taken out of the agency’s coffers through what it described as ‘fictitious, over-invoiced and non-existent foreign travels.”
Based on close monitoring and critical examination of bank payments, it was discovered that special payments and releases were made to a few staff of the agency for fictitious projects which were allegedly not executed.
Evidence made available to EFCC from NAMA Accounts department showed that from January 2013 to March 2015, over N700m had been siphoned through this process, using a handful of officers.
However, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, has appointed Emmanuel Anasi as acting Managing Director of NAMA. This followed the arrest of the Managing Director, Abdulsalam.
Anasi, who is NAMA’s Director of Engineering, is to act in the absence of Abdulsalam, who is currently being investigated by EFCC.
Amaechi paid an unscheduled visit to NAMA on Tuesday and had a closed-door meeting with the Directors of the agency before directing Anasi to act in order to prevent a vacuum.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Air Transport Employees has thrown its weight behind the EFCC operation in NAMA, stressing that it was the right thing to do in view of what it described as massive corruption in all aviation agencies.
The NUATE President, Alhaji Safiyanu Mohammed, blamed the poor work syndrome and welfare conditions of his colleagues and other workers on corruption in the sector. He affirmed that workers were in full support of every legal measure that would stop the endemic corruption.