Nigerian carrier, Medview Airline, on Friday clarified an alleged diversion of 2019 hajj fund to the tune of $900,000 for which the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), recently invited the chief executive officer of the airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, to Abuja for interrogations.
The fund, Blueprint gathered, was part of the sum of $8,897,663.63 the airline received as part of its Airlift Agreement with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to airlift pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in 2019.
However, the Hajj Commission alleged that the Medview Airline failed to perform its contractual agreement by not positioning its aircraft to ferry the pilgrims thereby forcing NAHCON to request fellow Nigerian-owned Max Air and Saudi Arabia carrier, Flynas Airlines, to airlift the pilgrims supposedly meant to be carried by Medview Airline.
In an electronic statement in Lagos on Friday, the airline said there was no scam or diversion of funds meant for the 2019 Hajj airlift, affirming that the funds were utilised for necessary preparations including aircraft maintenance and payment to service providers.
The document, signed by the director of Business Development, Mr. Isiaq Na-Allah, indicated that, “Specifically, the airline pointed to the much touted $900,000, saying NAHCON paid the money directly to two service providers in Saudi Arabia namely General Authority of Aviation ($400,000 and Taibah Airports Development Company ($500,000) on July 5, 2019.”
“In spite of deft moves by some highly placed persons to frustrate the airline from the operations with late release of funds, Medview Airline airlifted 4,387 pilgrims from Kaduna, Yobe and Ogun states. The pilgrims’ boards in those states are living witnesses of the operation.
In line with the terms of the contract with NAHCON, a Presidential committee was raised to reconcile the differences in payment to Medview Airline and the number of pilgrims airlifted, and this later metaphorsed into a Ministerial Committee where all issues were resolved.”
When contacted for comments, the spokeswoman for NAHCON, Hajia Fatima Usara, told our correspondent that the matter was before the court and so it would amount to contempt for the Commission to comment on it.