By Lawani Mikairu
Med-View Airline, Tuesday, accused the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, of breaching its contractual agreement with the airline on the airlifting of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. The airline also said it has petitioned the Presidency on the alleged breach.
The accusation was made by the solicitor to Med-View, Barrister Debo Adeleke, in an interview with aviation correspondents in Lagos. He explained that “Med-View made down payment of $8,897,663.63 as the total contractual sum for the airlift of 5, 720 pilgrims on May 20, 2019, with First Bank as the guarantor”.
While tendering documents with various dates, Adeleke alleged that NAHCON through its Acting Chairman, Abdullahi Mukhtar, acted “wickedly, in contravention of the agreement and frustrated Med-View Airline from continuing with the exercise”. But a source in NAHCON insisted on phone that the ongoing hajj exercise was flawed with “personal interests.”
Med-View further alleged that the act of NAHCON through Mukhtar amounted to economic sabotage, as “he attempted to compel the airline to partner with a Saudi Arabian’s carrier, Flynas despite its partnership with another Nigerian airline, Max Air, which is also participating in the exercise”.
According to Adeleke, “the contractual agreement stipulated that on execution of the contract, NAHCON was to make 50 per cent payment to Med-View, which was supposed to be $4,448,831.08 to enable the airline to conclude all necessary arrangements for the commencement of the hajj operations”.
“But, rather than 50 per cent in the contractual sum, the commission made available only 25 per cent payment on July 15, 2019, five days into the exercise which amounted to $2,412,539. Before the airline was disallowed from continuing with the outbound exercise, it had already airlifted 4,383 pilgrims in five days of the exercise, with eight airlifts, according to NAHCON website”.
A letter dated July 5, 2019, signed by Alhaji Muneer Bankole, the Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airline and addressed to the Chairman, NAHCON, demanded for payment of $900,000 to be made available to “General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and TAIBA, $400,000 and $500, 000, respectively”.
The letter with the head: ‘Demand note for Payment to GACA and TAIBA,’ reads in part: “As a result of exigency with regards to preparation for 2019 hajj airlift exercise, we write to request for payment of the sum of $900,000 to GACA and TAIBAH as analysed below: (i) GACA – $400,000 and (ii) TAIBAH – $500, 000.”
Efforts to get an official response from NAHCON as at the time of filing this report was not successful. But a management staff of the commission, who pleaded anonymity said on phone that the exercise was marred with “personal interests.”
The management staff said: “I don’t want to comment much on this because I am not the official spokesman of this commission, but something is clear, the exercise is marred with personal interests. It is not the job of NAHCON to compel an airline to partner with any other carrier. Once you have received the nod to participate, what concerns NAHCON is the airlifting of the pilgrims. I will send you the number of the spokesman of NAHCON for official statement.”
As at the time of filing this report, there has not been any official statement from the commission.