Controversy Trails 2019 Hajj, As Medview Accuses NAHCON Of Breaching Contractual Agreement

 

..Says Hajj Body Sabotaging FG’s Economic Policy For Approving Foreing Carrier For Exercise

..Challenges Chairman’s Neutrality

The controversies trailing the 2019 ongoing Hajj operations to Saudi Arabia continued unabated as one of the Nigerian carrier; Medview Airline approved by the Federal Government to airlift pilgrims for this year’s exercise has accused the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for a breach of contractual agreement.

The carrier with over 11years experience in Hajj operation also accused NAHCON of single handedly giving approval to FlyNas, a Saudi Arabia based carrier to partake in Hajj operation without recourse to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Abelnews learnt that this monumental breach compelled Medview Airline to petition the Presidency on the alleged breach.

Documents and letter with dates stumbled on by the online medium  and made available by a source close to the airline, claimed that NAHCON Acting Chairman, Abdullahi Mukhtar, acted “wickedly, in contravention of the agreement and frustrated” Med-View Airline from continuing with the exercise.

This is just as a reliable source in NAHCON hinted Abelnews that the ongoing hajj exercise was characterised with “personal interests and aggrandizements.”

Medview stated that biased nature NAHCON through Mukhtarhad been handling this year’s Hajj operations amounted to economic sabotage.

The well known Hajj operator alleged that NAHCON boss had attempted to force the airline to collaborate with a Saudi Arabian’s based carrier; Flynas despite the fact that Medview Airline has partnership with another Nigerian airline, Max Air, which is also participating in this year’s exercise.

Speaking to select journalists in an interview today in Lagos, the Principal Lead Counsel, Maritime, Commercial and Immigration Law Chambers, Barrister, Debo Adeleke,who is Medview lawyer put the total contractual value as $8,897,663.63 for the airlift of 5, 720 pilgrims on May 20, 2019 with First Bank guaranteeing the airline.

According to him, the contractual agreement stipulated that on execution of the contract, NAHCON was to make 50 per cent payment to Medview, which was supposed to be $4,448,831.08 to enable the airline to prepare for the commencement of the Hajj operations.

Adeleke added that rather pay 50 per cent as stated in the contractual agreement and in line with the contractual sum, the Commission made available only 25 per cent payment on July 15, 2019, five days into the exercise.

According to him, Medview Airline was given only $2,412,539.

In his words, “NAHCON Acting Chairman’s action is selfish, self centred, myopic and based on personal aggrandizement.

“Somebody under NAHCON is actively working to sabotage the economic policy of Nigeria.”

He called on the Federal Government to probe the activities of NAHCON, as the activities of the Acting Chairman of the body are contrary to that of the government that appointed him into the office.

A visit to NAHCON website by Abelnews revealed that before Medview Airline was stopped from continuing with the outbound exercise, it had already airlifted 4,383 pilgrims in five days of the exercise, with eight airlifts.

A letter stumbled on by the online platform, dated July 5, 2019, signed by the Chief Executive Officer, Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, and addressed to the Chairman, NAHCON, demanded for payment of $900,000 to be made to the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and TAIBA, $400,000 and $500, 000 for slots.

The letter with the title, “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 wrote 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.”

In the same nein, another letter with the reference number: MCILC/STFGN/NCBTAAB/01/19, dated August 5, 2019 and addressed to the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, accused NAHCON Chairman of malice against the carrier.

The document claimed that the entire 100 per cent was to be returned to the airline in four tranches; first;50, second 30, third 10 and fourth another 10 per cent, but that as at August 5, the agreement was not redeemed by NAHCON.

“A sum of 35 per cent of the contract sum is payable on the positioning of aircraft by our client for the commencement of the hajj operation and completion of all agreements for the outbound flights, while 10 per cent of the contract sum is meant for the inbound.

“Sir, it is highly unfortunate and agonising that while our client had meticulously, sincerely and religiously kept to the terms and spirit of the agreement between parties, the acting chairman of NAHCON, failed, refused and neglected to honour the terms and spirit of the said agreement.

“To salvage the ugly situation, a resolute was reached amongst parties on the 24th July, 2019 whereby amongst other things, the commission was mandated to pay both 50 and 35 per cent contract sum to our client,” the report added.

The lawyer contended that instead of allowing Medview to continue with the Hajj operation based on its contractual agreement with Max Air, the Acting NAHCON boss, Mukhtar attempted to compel Medview Airline to cede some of the pilgrims allocated to it by the Federal Government to Flynas, a Saudi Arabian carrier, an entity the NAHCON boss allegedly had an interest in.

In another petition to the Acting Chairman, National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), dated August 16, 2019 and copied the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and First Bank, the solicitor to Medview, said that the letter written by NAHCON, stating that it had paid the sum of $5,576,582.50, representing 63 per cent of the total contract of $8,897,663.63 was incorrect.

Medview Airline said that it received the total sum of $5,576,550.5, but insisted that it airlifted 6,443 at the total value of $10,007,550.00,arguing that the amount received did not amount to 63 per cent as alleged by NAHCON.

According to the petition, Flynas, a foreign carrier was “selfishly imposed on our client against the indigenous airline in the name of Max Airline,” stressing that the idea of forcing a foreign airline on the carrier was an act of economic sabotage and “a clear negation of the extant Federal Government policies.”

Attempts to reach officials of NAHCON failed and a WhatsApp message sent to NAHCON was not responded to.

However, a management staff of the commission, who spoke on the condition anonymity said that this year’s Hajj was marred with “personal interests.”

The source added that erred by stopping the airline from continuing with the inbound flights, adding that it was not the duty of NAHCON to compel a carrier to partner with any other airline, especially when such had been approved by the commission.

In his words,“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, our correspondent was yet to receive any official statement from the commission.

 

 

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