Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has demanded the swift arrest, investigation, and prosecution of Hadi Sirika, the former Minister of Aviation, regarding the alleged fraudulent Nigeria Air project.
In a statement released by HURIWA’s national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Wednesday, the group emphasized the need for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take action following the declaration of the project as a scam by both the upper and lower chambers.
HURIWA expressed concerns over the abrupt unveiling of Nigeria Air on May 26, the last day of President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, considering it suspicious. The group highlighted inconsistencies, stating that the aircraft presented as Nigeria Air actually belonged to Ethiopian Airlines, contrary to Sirika’s claims.
Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Compilation of Budgetary Allocations showed between 2016 and 2023, the Buhari regime, led by Sirika, allocated over N85 billion to the Nigeria Air project during an eight-year period.
The advocacy group further accused the national carrier of failing to secure any aircraft for its operations and lacking the necessary Air Operating Certificate (AOC) from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
During separate meetings with Capt. Dapo Olumide, the interim managing director of Nigeria Air, both the Senate aviation committee and the House Committee on Aviation, chaired by Biodun Olujimi and Nnolim Nnaji respectively, agreed that the launch of Nigeria Air was indeed a fraudulent act. Olumide confirmed that the Boeing 737-800 aircraft used for the unveiling was a chartered flight from Ethiopian Airlines and was subsequently returned to them.
In light of these revelations, HURIWA urged the EFCC to take prompt action against Sirika, conducting a thorough investigation to determine his culpability and ensuring that he faces appropriate legal consequences if found guilty.