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Reps Direct Private Airlines To Refund N4 Billions To FG, if..

By: Tanimu Salihu

The House of Representatives has given a week ultimatum to all private Airline operators in the country within which to render justifiable evidence before it on how they expended the N4bn they collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 intervention funds or refund the money to the government treasury.

The Chairman House Committee on Public Accounts Committee, PAC, Mr. Bamidele Salam gave the directive at the resumed investigative hearing on the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 intervention funds by the Ministries Departments and Agencies MDAs of the Federal Government and others who benefited from the funds.

The Committee resolved that ” all private airlines that received COVID-19 relief funds designated to support the aviation sector to refund the allocated funds to the federal government treasury, if they fail to give justifiable evidence of how the money was judiciously spent within a week.”

The Committee lamented that despite appearing before it, several of the airlines and industry stakeholders, and representatives from the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, failed to provide satisfactory explanations regarding the allocation and expenditure of the funds.
The committee emphasized the need for accountability and transparency in the utilization of public funds.

On its part, Azman Airlines represented by its Marketing Manager, Odum Chizoba Uju admitted receiving Over three hundred and sixty millions Naira, purportedly allocated for various operational expenses including aircraft maintenance; spare parts, fueling, and insurance premium paid while the Station Manager of Aero Contractor, Mr. Abdulmalik Musa said the company received over two hundred and fifteen millions Naira from the federal government for the Covid-19 intervention fund.

The representative of the Aero Contractor Airline explained that the fund was used for Airport handling and facility payment, fueling payment, pilot training payments, and lease rental payments.

However in a Sharp reaction to the submissions on how they utilised the funds , a member of the Committee and former pilot with the Nigeria Airforce, Mr. Ojuawo Adeniyi faulted the submissions, saying that the services claimed by the operators were applicable only during the regular operations of airlines.

Following this development a motion was moved by a member, Akiba Bassey that the amount involved should be refunded to the federation account should they failed to give justifiable evidence before the committee on the expenditure which was unanimously supported by members.

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