Senate probes alleged diversion of N500b fund for power, aviation, SMEs
CBN admits releasing N120b, Amaechi exonerates ministry, agencies
An investigation into alleged abuses in the management of the N500 billion Federal Government intervention fund released in 2011 for the power and aviation sectors as well as the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is underway at the Senate.
However, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, told the Senate committees on the matter that his ministry and agencies under it, based on available records, were not aware of the fund.
Also there are indications that the Federal Government was allegedly fleeced in $1.76 billion Lagos-Kano rail line rehabilitation contract under the last administration.
At a public hearing organised by the Senate committees on Aviation and Anti-Corruption at the National Assembly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), however, disclosed that of the N500 billion only N120 billion was released as intervention grants to the sector.
A director in the CBN, Mudashiru Olaitan, who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed further that N39.5 billion had so far been paid by the beneficiaries of the grants leaving N81.2 billion as outstanding.
He admitted that some of the ten airlines that benefitted from the fund were now moribund or had folded up which, according to him, was against the intendment of the fund.
He said AirNigeria and Chanchangi airlines folded up while Arik, Dana, Aero, Kabo, Overland and First Nation were still operating on the strength of the fund.
Asked why two out of the ten airlines folded up in spite of the intervention fund, he said the responsibility for monitoring the utilisation of the facility by the beneficiaries was given to Bank of Industry (BOI) as the facilitator of the loans.
But other stakeholders at the session like John Nnorom who served as Finance Director of the now defunct AirNigeria, said the diversion of the fund to other ventures led to the collapse of the airlines.
According to him: “The N34.5 billion drawn from the fund by AirNigeria was diverted to other personal business by the owner of the airline, Jimoh Ibrahim.
“The very moment the N34.5 billion intervention fund was paid into the airline’s account, it disappeared into one of the personal accounts of the owner without any amount from the fund injected into the airline, paving the way for its eventual collapse.”
Efforts by the committee to make further enquiries about the alleged diversion were fruitless with the absence of BoI Managing Director and other relevant stakeholders.
The committee, however, directed that Emefiele and heads of other agencies including airlines must appear before it today.The Senate Committee’s Chairman Hope Uzodinma, earlier in his address said that it was disturbing to learn of allegations that monies injected into the aviation sector through the intervention fund were not properly utilised for purposes to which they were meant.