Arik Air Paid FAAN N18.9B—Arumemi—Ikhide
…Says FAAN Acknowledged Receipt Of N11.4B
…Resumes Operations, apologises To Passengers
…Says FAAN’s Action Is Contemptous
Arik Air said that it has paid the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) a total of N18.9 billion from inception till date .
This is just as the leading airline alleged that FAAN had been frustrating the reconciliation process initiated by both the court and past Aviation Ministers.
The clarification is coming on the heels of the allegation by the two aviation unions: Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) that the airline owed FAAN N12.5 billion, a reason they alleged led to the disruption of the airline’s operations nationwide.
Recalled that the airline’s operation was disrupted by aviation unions and this made the airline’s passengers to be stranded across the country.
The Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Johnson Arumemi—Ikhide made the clarification while briefing aviation correspondents at the airline’s headquarter at the Murtala Muhammed Airport(MMA),Lagos.
Arumemi—Ikhide also disclosed that of the N18.9 billion paid to FAAN from when Arik commenced operations till date and that FAAN on February 12, 2016 acknowledged in its letter headed paper that it had received the payment of N11.4 billion from Arik.
He alleged that FAAN also said it received certain amount but could not ascertain where the money was from, a situation the Arik Air Chairman described as laughable.
Speaking further, the Chairman recalled how efforts were made by, Senate Committee on Aviation, headed by Senator Hope Uzodima, former Aviation Minister, Mrs Stella Oduah and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Mrs Binta Bello.
He stated that FAAN, who took the matter to the Senator Uzodima led Committee also frustrated efforts made by the committee to reconcile and resolve the matter,
He added that while the matter was there, FAAN allegedly asked the committee to give it two weeks, adding that after that it asked for four weeks and finally stopped coming.
According to him, FAAN took us to the committee two years ago .FAAN, who initiated the moves to reconcile the accounts are not ready for reconciliation. We have been reminding them that we want to reconcile the account so that we can move forward.”
The Chairman, who said that he was not happy of what was going on, stated that when both parties met with the former Permanent Secretary ,Ministry of Aviation ,Mrs Binta Bello, she told them that any claim or claims not backed with documentary evidence should be considered null and void.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Arik Air, Mr Chris Ndulue, said that the airline had resumed flight operations after yesterday’s disruption of Arik’s operation by aviation unions, which he described as unfortunate.
He stated that Arik Air had meeting with unions and that SSS and police were equally present at the meeting but that he was expecting to see FAAN management but that they were nowhere to be found.
He added that at the meeting the parties agreed that they should reconcile the account and that other outstanding payment should equally be addressed.
On his part, a Lawyer, Emeka Nwigwe, from Babajide Goku Chamber, who is the legal consultant, declared that what the unions did yesterday was an affront on the Federal High Court and the state, adding that if FAAN does not want the court to resolve the issue, the agency should tell the court.
In his words, “It is an affront on the Federal High Court and the state .A situation where staff whether individual or group decides to turn themselves into debtor collecting agency is absurd”.
He continued, “FAAN has no documents to back their claims, they simply result to intimidation. The case is in court. FAAN’S action is contemptuous. The law is very clear; no party should take anticipatory action when a case is pending
He informed that FAAN took the matter to court in 2015 but that it seemed FAAN was not able to satisfy the court why Arik’s airplanes should be arrested.