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$MULTI-BILLION NIGERIA AIRWAYS SCAM: PRESIDENCY, PDP BIGWIGS PITCHED IN BATTLE

…As Jonathan Set To Float New National Carrier

Despite the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), – led federal government to release the White Paper on the report of Justice Obiora Nwazota’s seven member panel of Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the management of Nigeria Airways, where billions of dollars of graft cases were uncovered, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is now set to float a new national carrier. The decision to have a new national carrier is now said to have divided the top brass in the presidency and also pitched some top notches of the ruling party in battle. Some die-hard loyalists of the president who are urging him to run for another term in 2015, are said to have argued that the white paper on the outcome of Justice Nwazota panel must be released and gazette, and, those found guilty tried and punished under the law accordingly. This group maintained that failure to do so, the administration will outrightly give the populace the final conviction that it is corrupt. On another hand, the second group argued that it will be suicidal to release and gazzete the white paper, on the premise that it will further dent the image of the party and also makes it to lose throngs of party faithful who are indicted in the report. CELEBGLITZ investigations revealed that 90 percent of those asked to refund various sums of money and equally banned from holding public office for the roles they played in destroying Nigeria Airways Limited, are members of PDP, the self acclaimed largest party in Africa. In the report submitted by Justice Nwazota panel on May 8, 2002, having worked for 12 months and accepted by the government, seven former Managing Directors were indicted and four recommended for prosecution. Also, 10 were banned from holding public office for 10 years, while one was banned for life. Two former ministers, including a one-time Chief of Naval staff were also asked to refund various sums of money and equally banned from holding public office for 10 years. These ministers, former managing directors and others were indicted for over-invoicing, questionable payments, faulty and unilateral executive decisions, including the sale of Nigeria Airways house in London, for half of its value amongst other evil acts. On the list of those declared unfit to hold public office are the former chairman of Fidelity Bank, Chef Adebiyi Olafioye and Executive director, Yemi Omowunmi. Others are Captain Mohammed Joji, Admiral Patrick Koshoni, Retd Comodore Bernard Banfa, AVM Anthony Okpere, AVM Yisa Doko, Retd Major-Gen Olu Bajowa, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Rtd Group Capt Peter Gana, Capt Allwell-Brown and others. Captain Mohammed Joji, a former MD of NAL, who was recommended for prosecution, was said to have misappropiated the sum of $12million paid to NAL as royalty by Swiss Air. Joji, who is now the Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON), was asked to refund the sum of $9.8million which he paid to Siberia as commission, but had no proof of payment. He was also to refund to the coffers of government the cost of D check on the B737 Aircraft, which was carried out by NAL in Nigeria, but which he paid for in Brazil. Joji, who is the chairman of Skypower Express Airways and chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF), along with Mr. Afam Nwagbosu were asked to refund the sum of $2.230.357million being discount on premium to NAL. Former Naval boss, Patrick Koshoni and retd Air Comodore Bernard Banfa were asked to refund the sum of $17.625million in respect of two Boeing 737 aircraft sold when they were minister of Transport and Aviation and MD of Nigeria Airways Limited(NAL) respectively. The duo are also to refund $3.525million being the cost of A310 aircraft not bought. Major-Gen(retd) Olu Bajowa, who was once sole administrator of NAL, was asked along with former minister of youth, sports and culture, who is equally a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, to refund $6.3million being losses to NAL occassioned by their unilateral termination of CES Travel Contract Agreemen with the national carrier. General Bajowa was also asked to refund $4.35 million which was deposited for the botched purchase of MD 14 and ATR Aircrafts, which deposit was never recovered. Another former MD, Alhaji Jani Ibrahim, who is now the chairman of Lubicon Group was asked to refund over $13million which arose from sundry deals and wrong decisions. Alhaji Mohammed Kari, Mr. J. Abulime, Engr. Andrew Agom (a PDP chieftain who died when the convoy of ex-Gov. George Akume was attacked along Makurdi-Abuja road few years back) Mr. Nwagbosu, Alexander Howden Aviation, Fidelity Bank, Nicon PLC are to be held responsible, jointly and severally for the sum of $13.935million which NICON PLC paid into the account of Alexander Services Ltd at Barclays Bank in Jersey Channel Island. They are also to face prosecution. Even, the likes of the Air Chief, Abdullahi Bello, Mr. Pascal Dozie, Alhaji Isiaku Umar, Otunba Tunji Adesoye and others, who served as members of the presidential task force for NAL, were also asked to refund various sums of money. Before the government could issue a white paper on the report, some of those indicted by the panel had gone to court and obtained injunctions to stop the white paper from being released. And, instead of going to court to vacate the injunctions, ex-president Obasanjo, who boasted that he left 39 aircrafts with NAL in 1979, and met two aircraft when he came back to power in 1999, liquidated the national carrier and sold it to Virgin Nigeria, which was later bought by Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, who re-christened it Air Nigeria, which is now comatose. Also, the properties of NAL in London, Rome, New York, Freetown( Sierra Leone) Malabo(Equitorial Guinea), Dakar in Senegal and over 40 houses in Ikeja GRA, Lagos, were sold at ridiculous prices. Also, after over one decade of liquidation, the staff of the defunct carrier are dying in droves, while still waiting for their pensions and gratuities. Now President Jonathan is discreetly working assiduously to set up another national carrier without looking into the failure and previous shortcomings of Nigeria Airways.

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  1. 1. Capt. Mohammed Joji, was not, and has not been, officially indicted, either by the Commission that investigated the affairs of the defunct airline or any other Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    2. Capt. Mohammed Joji served as Managing Director of the defunct Airline from January 1992 to August 1993. During this period, there was a Management Board under the chairmanship of Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an acclaimed Nigerian Citizen with great integrity. Some other members of the Board with whom Capt. Mohammed Joji worked were:-

    • Chief Kola Daisi – Member
    • Dr. U.S.H Maigida – Member
    • Mal. S. Y. Hamma MFR – Member
    • Mrs. Marlies Allan – Member
    • Mr. John 0. Hirse MNI – Member  
    • Mr. S. Allwell Brown – Member
    • Mrs. H.C. Abba-Gana – Member
    • Engr. I. Mamman – Member
    3. The setting of the board was such that Capt. Mohammed Joji could not execute any action, even the expenditure of any fund, without the approval of the Board. He therefore, could not have misappropriated the fund of the airline without the Board knowing and calling him to order. Thus, in any true investigation of any case of mismanagement of fund of the airline, the comment of the Board or any member of it will be helpful. This is on the principle that no indictment can be established without the comment of the Board to which our client was responsible as well as accountable at all times, throughout his tenure. The members of the Board are still alive.

    4. Sometime in 2000, following the poor state of affairs of the Airline, the Federal Government of Nigeria instituted Justice Nwazota Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of the Airline from 1983 to 1999. Capt. Mohammed Joji was invited to the Inquiry as a witness, not as an accused person. He was to speak on the affairs of the airline for the short period that he was Managing Director.

    5 Emphatically, no allegation of any impropriety was made against Capt. Mohammed Joji.

    6. It is also pertinent to mention that throughout Capt. Mohammed Joji’s tenure up to and until the judicial Commission of Inquiry, there was no complaint of financial mismanagement against Capt. Mohammed Joji.

    7. As a well-meaning Nigerian, Capt. Mohammed Joji attended the proceedings of the Inquiry. His presentation attracted high commendation by the Chairman of the Commission who remarked that Capt. Mohammed Joji demonstrated an unparalleled knowledge of what aviation industry is all about and prudent management of funds during his tenure.

    8. Curiously, Capt. Mohammed Joji was to read in the newspapers some months later upon release of the panel report that he was indicted. The newspapers also reported that a White Paper Review Panel had been set up under the Chairmanship of Lt. General T. Y. Danjuma (Rtd) to review the report toward government acceptance and gazette of the recommendations.   9. Alarmed by the newspaper reports, Capt. Mohammed Joji went to the office of the Attorney – General of the Federation which disclaimed any White Paper. Accordingly, Capt. Mohammed Joji went to the Federal Ministry of Information which also failed to offer any help, whereupon Capt. Mohammed Joji went to Lt. General Danjuma (Rtd). The retired General said he only read about the White paper committee saga in the news but had never received any communication on it.

    10. Significantly, the reported White Paper Committee was not officially constituted, and has never been so constituted till date. In other words, for over fourteen (14) years since 2000 when the Commission met and ten (10) years since 2007 that the matter of indictment was reported in the newspapers, there has not been any White Paper released by the Government documenting the recommendations as required by law.

    11. The significance of a White Paper on the matter in the circumstance is that this is the only legally recognized instrument of proving an indictment. In the absence of an Official Gazette of the Federal Government of Nigeria evidencing the recommendations of a Panel of investigation in the form of a White Paper, any claim of indictment of any person is nothing but a mere snippet of malicious gossip by those who set out to destroy others.

    12. There were thirty two (32) Managing Directors who served the defunct airline within the period of review. It is considered inconceivable or in comprehensible that a whole lot of all the (32) Managing Directors of Nigerian Airways from 1983 – 2000 could have stolen money from Nigerian Airways.

    13. It is pertinent to add that after leaving the services of Nigerian Airways in August 1993, Capt. Mohammed Joji was honoured on April 15, 1994 with the honour of free man of the city of London, being the 43rd year of the reign of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at the Futries Hall of the Lord Mayors of London, for services rendered to the aviation industry. At the time of our client’s said honour, only three Africans were accorded such honour among whom were Capt. Mohammed Joji and the late Nelson Mandela.

    14. It is also noteworthy too that the purported indictment notwithstanding, Capt. Mohammed Joji has never been arraigned before a court of law on account of the said indictment or any other account. This, itself points to issue of credibility of the entire claim of indictment.

    15. Also of note is the conclusion of the Chairman of the Judicial Panel on Capt. Mohammed Joji. In his concluding remarks, the Chairman said their decision was based on Capt. Joji’s deep knowledge about Nigerian Airways and global trends in Aviation Management. The Chairman went further to state that the commission’s position was also informed by Capt. Mohammed Joji’s highly informed disposition at the proceedings where he rendered many voluminous documents to back up his position. None of the Managing Directors commanded as much fact and debt of knowledge about the airline as Capt. Mohammed Joji, the chairman remarked. All these statements were captured in the Guardian Newspaper of the 15th December 2000.

    16. Obviously, the above remarks on Capt. Mohammed Joji are inconsistent with the notion of indictment of any form.

    17. To put the matter officially to rest, Capt. Mohammed Joji through J. Odion Esezoobo & Co., went to court to have a pronouncement on it. The matter is still pending before the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

  2. I read with sadness in the print media the purported release of Draft White Paper on the Justice Obiora Nwazota Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Nigeria Airways Initially, I was very comfortable and confident that the Judicial Panel led by the renowned Retired High Court Judge – Justice Obiora Nwazota did a very good job given the fact that all the proceedings were recorded even on tape. I was sure that the report and findings of the panel would reflect the recordings on tape and the several volumes of documents submitted to the panel. I also had no doubt in my mind that the White Paper would be based on the findings of the Panel. I was wrong and naive by underestimating the destructive effect of some of my fellow Nigerians who lack credibility and moral scruples and are hell bent on dragging every decent citizen to their sinking level.

    The timing of the illegal release of the draft white paper on a weekend and during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was unfortunate; but may well have been deliberate.

    This distortion severely affected some of us especially my humble self who lives and works in the United Kingdom and had had links with the United Kingdom for the past 32 years.

    I was on April 15th 1994 bestowed with the honour of the Freeman of the City of London, being the 43rd year of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at the Fates Hail of the Lord Mayors of London for services rendered to aviation industry.

    The Queen, the Prime Minister of England and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria were all in the country when this unfortunate event took place. Could it not also be politically motivated?

    Remember the saying of Edmond Bond “What the Goodmen do among the wicked ones is that they continue to do good” Above all “ALLAH” knows the best.

    I know the general public has been waiting for my response.

    The essence of a White Paper by a Commission is for the Government to find a basis for calling on a person indicted by a Commission or Panel or Tribunal to explain himself. The Commission is an organ of the Executive because it is usually set up by the President. It is not a Court. Its findings are not therefore final or conclusive. The Chairman of the Nwazota panel repeatedly mentioned during the proceedings that its work was fact finding. It repeatedly stated that nobody was standing trial or accused. Therefore, I believe that the findings of the panel are first and foremost to provide a basis for the government to issue a white paper representing its views on the findings/recommendations.

    Upon a recommendation the government can now confront any person mentioned in the report with the facts to explain himself. It is at this point that there can be said to be dispute where the person disputes the report.

    What is called for then is for either the government to go to court to present its recommendations as in the white paper to press a case against the person indicted or for the person to go to court to make his defence. This is the essence to the right to a fair. Hearing in the determination of the civil rights and obligations by or against the government.

    This is where the perpetrators of the publication of a draft white paper ought to have their Main Report P.104 allowed government to take its time to consider the panel’s reports/recommendations. The perpetrators have not done the government and the people of this country any good by desperately penetrating the government and going to the public with an un-completed report. I should think that the government should set up a probe to investigate this dangerous trend and bring to book the perpetrators of the publication of the draft white paper on the NAL.

    The publication is dangerous because it undermines government procedure it is inciting and capable of placing government in a position of incapability to really come out “From documents available to the Aluko Committee, only one of the interviews with the truth of the matter.

    The perpetrators have also painted everybody black with the same brush. In so doing, Capt. Joji was accused was raised. Government can even lose a genuine case against some of the indicted persons.

    If this illegal publication was done against some top government functionaries, I believe the government would have issued a refutal and ordered the arrest of the involved.

    Are there no more official secrets in government? What has happened to the Official Secrets Act, which has not been repealed?

    Notwithstanding my opening remarks, since we are now before the court of public opinion and since the government did not find it ethical to issue a public refutal and call these perpetrators to order, be it as it may, I will now go to the same Court of Public Opinion to present my case once more by responding to all the purported allegations levelled against me.

    Before I do that, three other issues came to light, which further compel me to go public.

    One; that the publication has the legitimacy of General T.Y. Danjuma Ministerial Review Panel. We now know that it is a defamation on the character of the General, since we believe such Committee never sat.

    Two; I and other Chief Executives of NAL contacted the Federal Ministry of Aviation regarding the release of the draft white paper, they only stated that they have nothing to do with the release.

    Three; The Newswatch Magazine has filed this lies, innuendoes and shenanigans before the Kaduna High Court on 10th December, 2001-Mainst a suit No. KDI-VKAD/521/95: Joji Vs Newswatch Magazine for their illegal publication on August 22, 1994 of the purported release of Visa Doko Probe Panel. In which I am claiming damages for N50 million.

    Today, it is on record that I am the only human being in Nigeria that has appeared before five different panels on the same subject. viz:

    1. The Visa Doko Panel of Inquiry of March. 1994.

    2. The Professor Sam Aluko led review panel of the Yisa Doko Panel of November/December 1994.

    3. The Admiral Porbeni led White Paper panel of 19th December. 1994 sitting in Calabar.

    4. The Air Cmdr. Jang Panel of September 1999 instituted by the then Minister of Aviation – Olusegun Agagu

    5. The Justice Obiora Nwazota Judicial Commission of Inquiry in October, 2000

    I will now attempt to show the general public how some restless minds who feel they have a score to settle with me due to my sincere dispositions to issues of public importance, have penetrated to all the findings of almost all the probe panels except a few to make sure Joji is declared guilty at all cost.

    1. THE VISA DOKO PANEL OF INQUIRY

    The Newswatch Magazine publication of 22nd August, 1994 claimed to reveal the findings of the probe panel by publishing a 26 count indictment against me which claims were neither communicated to me nor officially released. I protested to the then Head of Slate – General Sani Abacha on 22nd September, 1994.

    The then Head of State set up a panel to review not only the Nigeria Airways but also the CBN and Nitel probe panels conclusion.

    The Professor Aluko National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC), were charged with the review.

    2. THE PROFESSOR ALUKO (NATIONAL ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (NEIC)

    When I appeared before the Professor Aluko panel, it was horrifying to see the total distortion discovered by the Atuko Committee on the Yisa Doko panel just to nail me at all cost

    The Aluko Committee discovered that virtually all those that were invited and indicted for one offence or another were without exception not questioned on issue for which they were subsequently indicted. The Aluko committee submitted the following example;

    My former Director of Finance, Mr. Afam Nwagboso was-satcrio-be-found guilty of co-operating with Capt. Joji to defraud the airline millions of Naira (Visa Doko Main Report P.70). Mr. Nwagboso was further interviewed twice (Yisa Doko Main Report PP.55 and 61-63). The Aluko Committee concluded that in both inter-views there was no discussion of Mr. Nwagboso’s collaboration with Capt. Joe.

    On the N2 million I.O.U. received by Miss 0. Hembah, the Admin. Manager of the Nigeria Airways, the Yisa Doko panel recommended that the amount should be recovered from Capt. M Joji and Miss G. Hembah. This was contained in their Main Report P.104.

    The Aluko Committee discovered that when Miss G. Hembah was interviewed by the Yisa Doko panel which was recorded on P.57 of their Main Report, there was no evidence that the issue of the N2 million was raised with Miss fiembah.

    The Yisa Doko panel indicated that Capt. Joji was interviewed three times (see Methodology P 7 Executive Summary items (v), (viii), (ix).

    From documents available to the Aluko Committee, only one of the interviews was reported (as indicated in the Yisa Doko Main Report PP.176-180). The Aluko Committee further concluded that in this interview not a single issue over which Capt. Joy was accused was raised.

    The Aluko Committee noted that of the 70 memoranda received from staff and public, none appeared to have been received from Capt. Joji (Report Vol. III. PP 1-6). The Aluko Committee noted that not all persons said to have been inter-viewed appeared to have been so interviewed.

    I, Captain Joji confirmed to the Aluko Committee that I had submitted to the Yisa Doko panel the following documents:

    – 16 Annexures

    – 17 Enclosures

    – 3 Exhibits

    – 5 Addendum

    A total of 41 documents. None of these documents were produced to the Aluko Committee by the Yisa Doko panel.

    The Aluko Committee took steps to call the Secretary to the Yisa Doko Panel-Dr. J.A. Mamza to submit all of the above documents. One of the Secretary’s comments was that the documents have been shredded. Up to the time of winding the Committee, they did not receive any single document from the Secretary to the Visa Doko Panel.

    The Aluko Committee took further steps to interview all the key staff of Nigeria Airways.

    The Aluko Committee in their Report further submitted as follows:-

    It is unpardonable bias to the panel of the Yisa Doko panel to accept an accusation as a finding without due consideration/assessment of the reply from the person so accused”.

    “That the question of N2m I.O.U between Miss Hembah and Nigeria Airways was not between Miss Hembah and Nigeria Airways but between Nigeria Airways and Air Nigeria”.

    The N2 million I.O.U. is also part of the N14,528,889.19 expenditure incurred as at 30th April, 1994. by Nigeria Airways on behalf of Air Nigeria. The panel if not for bias and ulterior motive should have resolved this simple matter.

    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, the Aluko Committee (NEIC) expressed concern that an exercise of this magnitude with serious implications not only for the national economy, but also for her image can be treated with such levity by the Panel. From the point of view of this Committee, the Yisa-Doko Panel on Nigeria Airways Limited is a waste of public funds. The NEIC recommends that Government formally reject the Panel’s work for its shoddiness.

    It is an irony that neither the Professor Aluko Committee Report nor the Admiral Porbeni White Paper were leaked to the public or officially published by the Federal Government.

    Based on the Visa Doko probe panel report and that of the Professor Sam Aluko led National Economic Intelligence Committee, the Federal Government constituted the Admiral Porbeni led White Paper Dialling Committee on Nigeria Airways in Decem-ber 1994.

    3. THE ADMIRAL PORBENT WHITE PAPER SITTING IN CALABAR IN DEC. 1994

    It was natural to co-opt one person from the probe panel to guide the White Paper Commission.

    One Mr. Segun Onayemi, an Accountant by profession was co-opted from the Yisa Doko panel to give guidance to the Porbeni White Paper Panel.

    When I appeared before the panel on the 19th and 20th of December, 1994, I was asked if I submitted any document, I said did submit 41 volumes of different documents”. A member of the panel (a Military Officer turned his attention to Mr. Onayemi and asked, “you did tell this panel that there was no document you can assist the white paper panel with”. Mr. Onayemi replied that: the document sub-mitted was their personal property. The Military Officer was so furious at Mr. Onayemi and hurled abuses at him for wasting the panel’s time instead of guiding them.

    The Standing Chairman of the panel had to excuse me to the other room for them to sort out the problems.

    When I was later called in, I was politely requested by the white paper panel to assist them by submitting all the said documents they refused to release to them.

    During my next appearance, all the complete set of the documents were formally submitted to the Porbeni White Paper panel.

    The conclusion of the White Paper was never made public.

    In September 1999, four years later, another Panel of Inquiry was set up by the then Minister of Aviation – Olusegun Agagu with Air Commodore Jang as its Chairman.

    4. THE AIR COMMODORE JANG PANEL

    The perpetrators of injustice, having not been satisfied that the Aluko Committee and possibly the Porbeni White Paper cleared me of their trump-up charges, had to wait for four years and took advantage of the new civilian administration to constitute yet another “Kangaroo Panel” just to embarrass themselves.

    The then Minister of Aviation, Olusegun Agagu without reference to the Aluko Committee and that of the Porbeni White Paper set up the Air Commodore Jang panel in September 1999.

    However, knowing full well that such a panel was a waste of time and tax-payers money as well as my resources, I still appeared before them in October. 1999.

    The outcome of the panel report was a photocopy of the Yisa Doko panel report of 1994 because during the Chairman’s press conference, he made reference to the Yisa Doko panel without reference to Professor Aiuko and Admiral Porbeni white paper.

    The anti climax of this Panel Report was that in submitting its reports to Mr. President, the Chairman called a press conference and addressed them on Thursday 30th December, 1999 in the presence of Mr. President, the Vice President, some members of the Senate and members of the House of Representative. In effect, it was the press that released the entire report and the purported charges. Those indicted were never presented with the crime with which they were committed.

    I protested and called for the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.

    5. THE JUSTICE OBIORA NWAZOTA JUDICIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY AND THE PURPORTED RELEASE OF THE WHITE PAPER OF THE REPORT

    I appeared before the Commission as Witness No. 67 and gave evidence from 9th – October, 2000 to 7th December, 2000:- on 9/10/2090; 10/10/2000; 31/10/2000; 1/11/2000 and 7/12/2000 respectively also tendered 69 various volumes of documents variously marked EF79 to FE89; Exhibits FF I to FF28, FF44 to FF66 and Exhibits GG20 to GG33. These exhibits have riot just been made; rather they have always been there as records of official dealing. They, therefore, form the primary source of information on the transaction to which they relate.

    The picture that was sold to the general public was that Capt. Joji was working as a Sole Administrator without a Board.

    In fact, I was working with two different sets of Boards;

    – One was for Nigeria Airways under the Chairmanship of Prince Tony Mo-moh;

    – Second was for Air Nigeria whose Sub-Committee Chairman was Chief Omowole Kuye.

    Both Chairmen were renowned lawyers of repute and transparent people who have never been found wanting throughout their career in the Public Service. They are the last group of people that will condone any corrupt practices.

    Both of the Chairmen gave both written and oral submissions to the panels, but none of their. submissions were reflected in the commission’s white paper final Reports, showing dearly that these panels were chiefly constituted to witch-hunt innocent citizens and deceive the general public including the government that set them.

    The purported draft white paper cited the following as my corporate sins.

    I observed this time that the perpetrators of injustice did not mention the famous missing $100 million said to be given to Capt. Joji which could not be accounted for, rather they came up with a trumped-up figure of US$93 million which is $7 million short of US$100 million they claimed was stolen money. Is it that the perpetrators have lost their sense of arithmetic?

    Accusation No. 1:

    The sum of N2.0m unlawfully approved by Captain Mohammed Joji as impress account for Miss G.N. Hembah be recovered from him.

    Response No. 1:

    At the 13th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways, held on 25th February, 1993, para. 21, the following directive was given: I quote:-

    “The Start-Team for Air Nigeria was already in Lagos working”, adding that Nigeria Airways (WT) would cater for the initial reimbursement take-off expenditure of Air Nigeria which should be properly documented for refund by the Technical Committee on Privatization and Commercialization (TCPC)

    The above document was submitted to the panel.

    I was removed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Nigeria Airways before the reconciliation was carried out.

    However, when Professor Aluko Committee investigated Yisa Doko panel, it was confirmed that the N2m impress or I.O.U. formed part of the N14,528,889.19 expenses incurred as at 30th April, 1994 by Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL) on behalf of Air Nigeria. The panel ought to have resolved this simple matter.

    The picture, which the perpetrators are trying to paint here, is that – Joji is person of loose morals just like their next-door neighbours who cannot distinguish between responsibility and personal lust. They always see themselves in other people.

    Accusation No. 2:

    For the very bad management decision which resulted in the loss of N40m of NAL Fund, it is considered view of the Commission that Captain Mohammed Joji and NAL’s Director of Finance, Mr. Afam Nwagboso should refund to NAL, the sum of N40m which they lost to CMB, since no reasonable management who had the Interest of NAL in mind would have used CMB as the collection bank when financial institutions such as First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc were available with better and more wide spread branch networks nationwide additional to their being very well established financial institutions.

    Response No. 2:

    At the 9th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways on 24th February, 1992; under item 9: Sales Proceeds Collection (SPC) service, two banks applied for the service;

    – Continental Merchant Bank (CMB)

    – Nigeria International Bank (NIB)

    Decision:

    Para, 47 : The Board approved the appointment of Continental Merchant Bank (CMB) for the collection of the Sales Proceeds Collection (SPC) Service to the airline. The said document was submitted to the panel.

    Comment:

    CMB was 100% owned by Government and was a well-established bank and was solvent, the risk of losing Nigeria Airways money could never have arisen. Nigeria Airways was also 100% owned by government. Whoever the CMB used to collect on her behalf did not affect the instant credit on our accounts in Lagos. Nigeria Airways could collect any amount at any time relative to what was collected. Furthermore, CMB provided NAL a monthly foreign exchange facility of $250,000.00 for the purchase of spare parts.

    At the time of termination of my appointment on 27th August, 1993, CMB was a well established bank and was never liquidated. Furthermore, NAL money was not lost in the Bank when I left the services of NAL. I believe the Director of Finance -Mr. Afam Nwagboso has justified to various panels that there was no money missing in CMS that belongs to Nigeria Airways.

    What else expected from a reasonable management than this? The panel seemed to be standing on its head. If the so called N40m had been lodged in a private account or an account other than the one approved by the Board of Directors, it is then an eye brow could be raised and whoever was involved be dealt with accordingly.

    In fact, I do not even know how the N40m came about. The bank was collecting our money for over a year. The cumulative of these sales proceeds runs into hundreds of millions of Naira. To come up with a cooked-up figure of N40m is something else.

    The background to this was that, previously, Managers at various airports made sales, spent as much as they could and sent the balance to the headquarters. This new noble idea put an end to their racketeering. Many toes no doubt were stepped on hence all these smear campaigns.

    Accusation No. 3:

    Captain Mohammed Joji should give full account of his disbursement of the sum of $12m paid to NAL as royalty by Swiss Air.

    Response No. 3:

    At the 13th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways on 25th February, 1993. Item 5, title update on privatisation of Air Nigeria and proposal for the Commercialisation of Nigeria Airways; I Quote:

    “In addition, Swiss Air has agreed to provide an advance royalty of $12 million for four protective frequencies into Lagos for the next 3 years. This was to assist Air Nigeria with a working capital for the initial operating cost”. The said document was submitted to the panel.

    Chief O. Kuye, the Chairman TCPC Sub-Committee on Air Nigeria confirmed in his submission to the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that these monies belonged to TCPC under the protective custody of Swiss Air and was never in the accounts of Nigeria Airways.

    Any approval to utilise the money to rescue Nigeria Airways was given by the TCPC through the Start Team to Swiss Air for the necessary disbursement. Documentary evidence was given to this effect.

    Why should the white paper then call on Capt. Joji to give full account of this money? Is this not the responsibility of the panel to follow this up to its logical conclusion, rather than arriving at this hasty conclusion thereby leaving it open ended?

    Accusation No 4:

    Captain Joji should refund to NAL the sum of $9.8m which he allegedly paid to Sabena as the Commission has no proof that such payment was in fact made by him

    Response No. 4

    At the 8th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways held on 27th January 1992, under “Engineering and Maintenance; para. 34, the management submitted to the Board spare parts that were held by Sabena and the exposure the airline suffers as a result. The said document have been submitted to the panel.

    The Board set up several sub-committees for the verification of NAL indebtedness. Correspondingly, the Chairman Sub-Committee TCPC Chief Kuye has gone one step further to appoint Local and European Consulting firms to verify the NAL debt prior to absorbing the indebtedness of Nigeria Airways before privatisation. The TCPC Sub-Committee Chairman main area of concern was the overseas creditors.

    The following management Sub-Committee’s were set up for the verification of Sabena accounts.

    Meeting of 16/17/18 of March 1992 held in Brussels;

    Net balance in favour of Sabena was $13,129,781.39

    Work in progress $6,240,625.

    The total indebtedness stood at $19,370,406

    Nigeria Airways continue to make progress payment towards liquidating the amount.

    2. Meeting held at Sabena on April 27, 1992. The estimated balance was $15,880,808.70. After adjustments of further invoices this was discovered to be $25,525,051. Sabena was asked to provide proof of the substantial increase of the original amount.

    3. Meeting held at Sabena on 6th May, 1992. The Air Nigeria Consultants (Allan Gedes) held meeting with Sabena as an independent observer and issued the following brief:

    That Sabena finally presented a detailed list of invoices, which substantiated their claim that the total amount owed by NAL is $25.5 million.

    The invoices were given by the Consultants to Mr. Sobodo (in charge of inter-line account) of Nigeria Airways asking him to check with the engineering department who are the end users to confirm the invoices.

    The invoice clearing section of the Nigeria Airways Engineering Department Was a ‘blackhole’ for un-reconciled invoices.

    Time-after-time, their reconciliation is grossly in arrears.

    While the maintenance contractor was giving one figure, the account department of the Nigeria Airways was showing another figure. The difficulty is always the Invoice Clearing Section of the Engineering Department. At one time, I have to appoint one of the Consultants – Mr. Allan Geddes an Accountant by profession to oversee these lapses. He discovered that literally half of the invoices were dumped into a corner un-reconciled.

    4. On 24th September, 1992 Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Chief Executive of Sabena Mr. P. Godfroid and Capt. M. Joji MD/CE of Nigeria Airways for the liquidation of the outstanding debt of $27,151,869.48. The increase was due to additional work in progress at the Sabena facility, which included 12 jet engines sent to Sabena before my tenure of office.

    5. Statement of Account as at 8th June 1993 shows balance due to Sabena as $16,545,462.09.

    As part of the memorandum to the 13th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways on 25th February, 1993, payment to Sabena from the Federal Government loan of $64.3 million was as follows:-

    26/11/92 – $7,067,515.68 – for aircraft maintenance

    17/12/92 – $1,300,000.00 – for engine purchase

    31/12/92 – $4,100,000.00 – for aircraft maintenance

    Total payments from the above allocation was $12,467,515.68. Incidentally, these monies were paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria direct to Sabena with the appropriate ‘Form A’ raised by the Ministry of Finance.

    All of the above mentioned documents were presented to the panel as Exhibits.

    For the draft white paper to say that the sum of $9.8 million paid to Sabena was a commission and has no proof of payment is a gross misrepresentation of fact.

    The word ‘commission’ was deliberately inserted to create an impression that corruption has taken place. This choice of word was not only mischievous but also inappropriate.

    Accusation No. 5:

    That Captain Mohammed Joji should refund to NAL the sum of $4,531,358.50 being the cost of ‘D’ Check on the B737 aircraft which was carried out by NAL in Nigeria which the airline paid for in Brazil.

    Response No. 5

    At the 14th Ordinary Board Meeting of the Nigeria Airways, held on 20th April, 1993, minutes of the Technical Committee held on 11th March, 1993 was presented to the Board of the Nigeria Airways.

    The Director of Engineering – Engr. Ayo Lawal and myself were members of the sub-committee. The Secretary to the Committee was Mr. Akiniayejo – Manager, Maintenance Contract of the Nigeria Airways Engineering Department.

    Under Aircraft major Checks, Aircraft B737 (5N-ANY) Check ‘D’

    Two company’s responded to our request for proposal (RFP)

    (a) Varig – Brazil

    – Has thoroughly inspected the aircraft

    – Produced comprehensive listing of missing parts/items; Number about 295

    – Produced list of minimal required items necessary to make the aircraft ferry-able (fly to Brazil) and ready to provide the short fall on NAL items available.

    – Lower labour rate amounting to $35/man hour

    – A credit memorandum, which will lower considerably the net payable for the ‘D’ Check.

    This procedure is often followed at the completion of the Check and during reconciliation of account. In most cases the airline always earn same discount.

    (b) Team Aer Lingus – Dublin Ireland

    – Has not carried out any thorough investigation on the aircraft but only relied upon its previous knowledge of the fleet.

    – Unfavourable high labour charge averaging £53/man hour. This is equivalent to $80/man hour.

    – Expected higher net charge

    Aer Lingus was the traditional Nigeria Airways maintenance contractor for over 30 years who are always complacent and taking things for granted.

    The appointment of Varig to carry out the ‘D’ Check on 5N-ANY in Brazil was approved. This document has been submitted to the panel.

    The Check was successfully carried out at a cost of $4,708,178. Only $1,133,110 was on labour, the balance was spares. Before final reconciliation was carried out I was removed as the MD/CE of NAL. I handed over the reconciliation and the request of any credit to my Successor.

    The Audit Team, Airclaims, the London Loss Adjusters appointed by Chief Kuye, the Chairman Sub-Committee on Air Nigeria for debt verification and possible absorption of the debt by the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC) prior to privatisation, conducted technical audit of Aer Lingus and other maintenance contractors.

    In their two volumes report of July 19, 1993 submitted to the Chairman, they remarked that Aer Lingua, the maintenance contractor for the Nigeria Airways have not been fair to the airline over the years.

    They cited B737 Reg. 5N-ANC whose maintenance was before my tenure of office. The airline was charged a staggering amount of $9 million for ‘D’ Check, and the man hour spent on the aircraft was similar to the hours spent on a jumbo jet B747. This was in contrast to the B737 sent to Brazil during my tenure which total cost was less than 50% of the amount charged by Aer Lingus.

    They also indicted Aer Lingus for over charging NAL on an engine overhaul. They charged $1,25m instead of rendering the engine beyond economic repair (BER). The Brazilians did a similar engine overhaul for Nigeria Airways for only $200,000.00.

    Comment:

    The Nigeria Airways engineers stated that they carried out a ‘D’ Check on the Aircraft. This is nothing but a charade.

    – The purported ‘D’ Check was carried out 18 months before I assumed office as MD/CE

    – The so-called cheek was carried out in a hangar that was not suitable for Boeing 737 type aircraft maintenance. The hangar cannot accommodate the whole aircraft. Incidentally, this particular Nigeria Airways hangar was built over 30 years ago for smaller aircraft such as F27 and F28 aircraft.

    – After the so called Check was carried out, the aircraft remained on the ground for 18 months and 295 components or parts including the tail pylon structure were removed; In fact the aircraft was virtually on jack because the landing gears were removed to service other aircraft.

    – Boeing company, the manufacturers of the aircraft recommended that Nigeria Airways shall never carry out any ‘D’ Checks in Nigeria, because they lack the necessary tools, equipment and spares. The hangar is not suitable for such check. This was as a result of the photograph Boeing took when 5N-ANC was undergoing a major Check in Dublin. It shows severe corrosion at the toilet area of the aircraft. Should the aircraft lose pressurisation for any reason during flight, the area will collapse and will affect the flight control cables of the aircraft with fatal consequences.

    As a prelude to the excellent checks carried out by yang on the Aircraft 5N-ANY, during my tenure of office, the Aircraft flew for a period of over six months without a single defect. This singular aircraft was serving the airline for over ten years without any problem.

    In fact, it was the only Aircraft that was successfully flying when the Airline was shut down this year.

    Accusation No. 6 (In Two Parts)

    (i) The Commission recommends that Captain Joji and Mr. Afam Nwagboso and Nicon Insurance Plc should refund to NAL the sum of $2,230.387 being discount on premium to NAL.

    (ii) The Commission recommends that Capt. Mohammed Joji and his Director of Finance and Supplies Mr. Afam Nwagboso should refund to NAL the sum of $2,458,064 being the difference between the amount allegedly paid to NICON by Capt. Mohammed Joji as premium on the insurance and the amount due.

    Response No. 6

    The deliberate choice of this accusation in two parts is to create figures of deep-rooted corruption in the airline.

    At the 9th Ordinary Board Meeting of NAL held on 24th February 1992, Para C. Insurance Premium. The Board noted that the 1991 Insurance Premium (before my tenure) was fully paid and directed that I should submit comprehensive memorandum for the 1992 insurance.

    The Debit Notes for the 1992 Insurance Premium was calculated as at December 1991. This was before my tenure.

    When I assumed office in January 1992, the following debit notes from NICON Insurance were handed over to me. viz:

    Nicon Debit Notes Amount

    MA 56215 $ 8,318,130.00

    MA 56216 $ 947.065.00

    MA 56218 $ 8,318,130.00

    MA 56219 $ 4,993,610.00

    $22,576,934.00

    Plus the new DC10-30 reg. N3204W premium of $3,677,436.00 insured separately by direct placement in accordance with the Lease Purchase Agreement signed in 1988.

    Total premium for the year 1992 is $26,254,370.00. This was the figure I inherited. The above document were submitted to the panel.

    The first payment of US$10,000,000.00 was made on April 1992 direct to the underwriters in London by the Federal Government through the Federation Account.

    At the 10th Ordinary Board Meeting held on 24th August, 1992, it was further responded that the Federal Government made additional payment of $10,000,000.00 in July 1992 direct to NICON account.

    The Board directed that management should make effort to pay the remaining balance.

    At the 13th Ordinary Board Meeting of NAL held on 27th January, 1993, the management informed the Board that additional payment of $2,950,000.00 was made in December 1992 from the Federal Government grant leaving a shortfall of $3.05m.

    To complete the shortfall, the airline utilised the return premium amount of $3.05m. This money was the no claim bonus the airline earned for good insurance practice. How did the perpetrators, came up with $2,230,357.00 and $2,458,064.00 as being diverted.

    The premium for the following year 1993 shows a reduction in premium from the sum of $26,254,370 down to $16,819,895, a saving of $9,434,475. The reduction in premium was as a result of our no claim record for the previous year.

    Accusation No. 7

    The sum of $6.003,000.00 being instalment payment made by Capt. Mohammed Joji on the botched Lease Purchase Agreement should be paid by him.

    Response No. 7

    The panel has totally lost sight of its final objectives. In utter disgust, either deliberate, mischievous or total ignorance, the panel viewed money paid for a legitimate finance leasing of the aircraft which the Nigeria Airways had been using from 1988 -1993 a period of 5 years with “quiet enjoyment”, to turn round on the other hand and demand payment for the services which they have already enjoyed under the lease covenant.

    This accusation refers to the purchase of the new Nigeria Airways DC10-30 reg. N3024W. This aircraft was leased purchased in 1988. When the Presidential Task Force (PTF), which I was a member, was appointed in 1989 to oversee the eventual privatisation of the airline, this transaction was already scheduled. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) took delivery of the aircraft after the transaction was completed.

    The Aircraft was purchased for $75m financed by a syndicate of six (6) banks led by Japanese Leverage Leasing (JLL) as the leading syndicate. Equator Leasing Company was the Lease Manager acting on behalf of the syndicates.

    Nigeria Airways made a down payment of $17m in 1988 and the syndicate financed the balance of $59.5m.

    The financing of this Aircraft was punitive. It was to carry American registration, be separately maintained by KLM and be insured separately by direct placement independent of the rest of the NAL fleet. This singular aircraft was costing the airline $1.5m a month on cost alone. The operating costs, such as fuel, landing, handling and catering is a separate cost.

    Presidential Task Force (PTF) managed to meet its obligation at a greater expense to the other fleet. In fact, in most cases, the BASA (airline commission) was heavily utilised to meet this obligation.

    When I became the MD/CE of the airline in January 1992, I disclosed to the Board of Nigeria Airways and the TCPC that two third of our foreign currency income was being spent on that aircraft alone. A decision was to be taken to re-structure the lease.

    At the 13th Ordinary Board meeting of NAL on 24th August, 1992, the Board directed that the aircraft be grounded or be parked with the Lessor maintenance in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam in order to allow the re-structure of the lease. Between, January 1992 to December 1992, we had paid the sum of $16,975.592.00 representing rental payment, KLM maintenance, insurance, maintenance reserves and rental interest. Only $6m went to capital re-payment. The excess was to pay for maintenance, insurance and reserves. Ignorantly, the panel misconstrued the payment of $6m as a fraud.

    One of the options we examined was to sell the aircraft to recoup our losses and if any amount of money was left after liquidating the capital amount, we would utilise the amount to lease or purchase a mid-life DC10-30; but due to the fall in value of aircraft after the Gulf War, the book value of the aircraft outweighed the physical value by as much as $13m. Therefore, selling the aircraft would not have achieved the desired objectives. We were left with the only option of re-structuring the lease for flexibility of extending repayment period, a different maintenance contractor and insure the aircraft with the rest of NAL fleet.

    We held several meetings in London, New York and Lagos with the Lessors with a view to restructuring the lease of the aircraft. We succeeded in re-negotiating the lease under a flexible term agreeable to the Lessor. On the verge of concluding the final document, my appointment and that of the Board was terminated. I handed over the transaction of the aircraft parked in Amsterdam to my Successor.

    The panel simply misconstrued lease default as a fraud. The anti-climax of the lease imbroglio was the indictment of the eight man Presidential Task Force (PTF) led by AVM Bello which I was a member and was asked to pay $31m as total and final payment on the aircraft.

    Presidential Task Force (PTF) met the aircraft just like I did. The perpetrators should know that lease default is not tantamount to fraud.

    EXPECTED PANEL’s REACTION ON ME

    The right thing that the various panels did, throughout my appearances before them was to acknowledge the fact that I was well intended in helping them perform their assignment and above all see to the growth of the Nigeria Airways, in particular, and the Nigerian Aviation Industry in general. I did this, without sounding immodest, by tendering the highest number of documents before each of the panels and one thought that rather than this being a commendable effort, some people are turning it to unfounded indictment of Captain Mohammed Joji.

    To prove a point of personal vendetta, the so called white paper was quoted as having recommended banning me from holding political offices for as long as ten years. But the question is who is afraid of Joji’s political fortunes? Before I was appointed the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NAL, I was not found on the street. I was managing my personal airline very successfully.

    Rather than throwing dust on everybody who has at one time or the other given his service to the Aviation Industry via Nigeria Airways, commonsense and wisdom dictate that the grain should be separated from the weeds by indicting those whose records of administration of NAL are found wanting. You don’t just paint everybody black with the same brush!

    CONCLUSION

    Thus people with proven records of transacting business should be proved right or wrong by thorough verification of the offices and individuals said to have received such payment. It is only in Nigeria that people lobby to join one tribunal or the other with a pre-determined outcome. They see each panel as an avenue of settling scores with people they otherwise cannot match in the society.

    I must further emphasise that understanding aviation business in Nigeria is beyond our scope, and we should know the danger in this problem.

    I therefore advise that government should look outwards to recruit people of proven aviation track record who can understand what aircraft financing maintenance is all about, people who can give credit to Executives who take decision rather than praises for passive managers.

    In other countries where hard-work, professionalism and dedication are recognised, I with my former Director of Finance, Mr. Afam Nwagboso, would have earned praise and accolades, not trumped-up charges of fraud and mismanagement.

    Finally, I would like to state without any fear of contradiction whatsoever that all the actions I took as MD/CE of Nigeria Airways or Air Nigeria was with written approval or the two Boards that worked with me.

    Furthermore, I did not take any unilateral decision whatsoever.

    Last word: How can you have 21 Chief Executives and 20 Chairmen in a space of 32 years, an addition rate of 1.5 years per CEO and expect progress?

    Who is really to blame?

    BY CAPT. MOHAMMED JOJI

  3. Alarmed by the newspaper reports, Mohammed Joji went to the office of the Attorney – General of the Federation which disclaimed any White Paper. Accordingly, Mohammed Joji went to the Federal Ministry of Information which also failed to offer any help, whereupon Mohammed Joji went to Lt. General Danjuma (Rtd). The retired General said he only read about the White paper committee saga in the news but had never received any communication on it.

    Significantly, the reported White Paper Committee was not officially constituted, and has never been so constituted till date. In other words, for over fourteen (14) years since 2000 when the Commission met and ten (10) years since 2007 that the matter of indictment was reported in the newspapers, there has not been any White Paper released by the Government documenting the recommendations as required by law.

    The significance of a White Paper on the matter in the circumstance is that this is the only legally recognized instrument of proving an indictment. In the absence of an Official Gazette of the Federal Government of Nigeria evidencing the recommendations of a Panel of investigation in the form of a White Paper, any claim of indictment of any person is nothing but a mere snippet of malicious gossip by those who set out to destroy others.

    There were thirty two (32) Managing Directors who served the defunct airline within the period of review. It is considered inconceivable or in comprehensible that a whole lot of all the (32) Managing Directors of Nigerian Airways from 1983 – 2000 could have stolen money from Nigerian Airways.

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