The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is conducting a criminal investigation into the Nigeria Air deal, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo has revealed.
The controversial deal, initiated during the tenure of the former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika has come under scrutiny for alleged irregularities.
Keyamo disclosed the ongoing investigation during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday, January 31.
“The EFCC is investigating that deal. There is a criminal investigation going on. I have called for the report,” Keyamo stated.
The Nigeria Air project, unveiled on May 26, 2023, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, aimed to establish a national carrier at an estimated cost of $300 million, with 5% funding from the Federal Government and the remainder from private investors.
The aircraft was branded with the Nigeria Air logo, designed by a Bahraini firm at an alleged cost of $600,000.
However, the project was suspended in August 2023 after Keyamo assumed office as the Aviation Minister, citing concerns over the deal and ordering a thorough audit.
Keyamo clarified that no local airline would be designated as the national carrier, emphasising the government’s commitment to establishing a sustainable and profitable one.
The controversy surrounding Nigeria Air led to criticism from various stakeholders, including the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation which described the project as a “fraud.”
The resignation of Girma Wake, the chairman of Ethiopian Airlines further fueled the controversy, as he claimed non-involvement despite being hired as a consultant.
Despite the challenges, Keyamo said he was optimistic that the project would take off before the end of the current administration.
“We are not going to rush into anything. We are going to do it right. We are going to establish a proper national carrier that will make Nigerians proud,” he said.