By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—CONTRARY to allegations that he did not only receive the N35.5 billion debt, being share of Virgin Nigeria’s Aviation Intervention Fund, but unilaterally mismanaged the money, former Chairman of defunct Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, walked out of a Senate panel a happy man, yesterday, when it was discovered that he was wrongly accused.
This came even as arguments ensued between Mr. Ibrahim, who denied collecting N35.5 billion from the Bank of Industry for his defunct airline and the UBA, which insisted that the millionaire businessman actually wrote through it to the Bank of Industrial, BOI, for the money.
He, however, queried the management of the UBA for writing a letter, giving him a clean bill of health to Air Nigeria when, indeed, the airline was still indebted to it (the bank).
While explaining his side of the controversial fund, Ibrahim argued that the BOI did not give him any loan, but that it was the UBA which actually applied and obtained the loan which had nothing to do with Air Nigeria.
According to him, the money, which was used to resuscitate the defunct airline, was sourced from his conglomerate.
“Government did not give me loan and I did not collect any loan from the Bank of Industry or any other agency of government. What has government to do with me?
“When we bought Air Nigeria, I did not see any intervention fund, no cash was paid to me or credited to Air Nigeria from the fund. When we came in, Air Nigeria had a total of about $250m with two aircraft parked at the terminal that nobody was using.
‘’Mr. Richard Brandson, walked out of the Airline. It was in a comatose state and the company was winding up before I was called upon. We decided to use our group of companies to grow the national carrier.”