NewsAviation Stakeholders Want Sold Helicopters Returned to Nigeria

Aviation Stakeholders Want Sold Helicopters Returned to Nigeria

July 08, (THEWILL) – Major stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation sector have called on the Federal Government to ensure that the two sold Bell 206-L4 helicopters belonging to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria in Kaduna State are returned to the country as soon as possible.

The calls are coming on the heels of an exclusive report published in THEWILL Newspaper on June 29, 2024.

The report had exposed how the helicopters allegedly ‘auctioned’ way below their market value towards the end of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration were found in a hangar operated by Dynamic Helicopters in the United States, waiting to be resold to the manufacturer at the current market value.

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In his submission, a former Military Commandant at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), raised significant concerns about the level of stealing that took place during the tenure of the immediate past government in the country.

In an interview with THEWILL, Ojikutu, now the CEO of Centurion Security and Safety Consult, who previously served on a presidential committee, stressed the need for immediate action by responsible authorities to see that the aircraft are returned.

“I agree that the aircrafts should be returned to Nigeria. Enough of these stealing with impunity that assumed a high dimension under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch,” he said.

Commenting on the issue, the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria and a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Associated Airlines, Dr Alex Nwuba said that even if the helicopters were sold, the real issue is whether the sale followed due process.

“I don’t believe the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology does not need the helicopters. Even if the institution doesn’t need them, there are other government agencies that could make effective use of the helicopters, such as Nigerian Army, NAF and others,” Nwuba said.

He noted that when such a thing happens only the third party benefits. “It is despicable that we continue to see the hand of a former minister in the malfeasance that has been coming up recently,” Nwuba said.

The aviator urged the Federal Government to do everything within its power to return the helicopters to the country.

Also reacting, the General-Secretary of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, described the situation as extremely saddening.

He said, “It is extremely saddening to know that almost two brand new helicopters could be sold for $1.2 million and the money collected at the prevailing exchange rate of the Naira. In fact. I understand that the Nigerian Air Force wanted to purchase them at a pervasive price only for the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace and in particular, the former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to renege and sell the aircraft to the latter’s colleagues.

Upon that purchase, the two helicopters were flown to Lagos and from Lagos, we understand that they are sitting comfortably in the United States of America.

“In fact, this is quite scandalous. This matter should not be swept under the carpet. I appeal to the appropriate government security agencies to set a machinery in motion to retrieve and bring those helicopters back to Nigeria and prosecute everyone involved in the deal, Abioye said.”

He argued that if the helicopters were bought specifically for use by the college, and it finds it unnecessary to use them, there are other government agencies that could be invited to take them and pay the college, so that such money can be used for infrastructural development in the college.

“So it is bad enough for a minister to engage in this kind of scandalous thing”, the labour leader maintained.

The Secretary-General, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulraq Saidu, in his own reaction, advised the government to quickly retrieve and return the helicopters back to the country.

Saidu said, “Once a thing is stolen and discovered, it should be recovered. With that factual story published by THEWILL Newspaper, putting the serial number of the aircraft, showing where they are parked and mentioning the manufacturer of the helicopters that wanted to buy them back, it is enough to jail the people involved in that type of economic sabotage, stealing government property by trick.”

About the Author

Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

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Anthony Awunor, THEWILLhttps://thewillnews.com
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

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