The management of Arik Air and its shareholders are at odds over an alleged N120 billion fraud and the ensuing Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation.
According to reports in the media on Saturday, Omokide Kamilu, the receiver manager for Arik Air, was detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly misappropriating and diverting about N120 billion.
In a statement, Receiver Manager Kamilu Omokide clarified the situation, claiming that Sir Arumemi-Ikhide (the majority shareholder in Arik), who is alleged to owe AMCON N240 billion as of May 31, 2022, was the one who initiated the petition.
“The outrageous allegations of the misappropriation of N120 billion in the petition are manifestly and patently false, and they amount to nothing more than carefully crafted lies as part of a deliberate campaign of defamation against the Receiver Manager, to terminate the ongoing receivership in Arik. The claims do not add up to N120 billion even on the surface of the petition. Omokide claimed that it was made up as a publicity stunt.
He claimed that the petition gave a “disingenuous and deceptive portrayal of actions, which are the typical duties and behaviours of a Receiver/Manager—falsely insinuating criminal intent. “The reality is different”, he said. “Instead, the Receiver Manager only wants to get back the money this recalcitrant debtor owes the Nigerian people”, he stated.
He claimed that the petition and how it was reported in the media suggested shady sales of assets, including a CRJ aircraft that Arik had only leased and that its owners had since taken back.
Additionally, he added that the petition implied that certain wet lease operations were being funded by a JV with criminal intent. Since Arik is a company that is technically insolvent and is only being kept alive by the generosity of AMCON and Federal aviation agencies, these JV financings were creative ways to raise capital.
A Boeing 737-700 aircraft with the registration 5N-MJI had been abandoned and cannibalised in Malta since 2013 by Arik under the then-leadership of Sir Johnson, and years before the receivership started. This was one of the issues that the petition also brought up.
“This was a professionally made choice regarding an aircraft that was deemed to be Beyond Economic Repairs (BER) and was at risk of being abandoned by administrators of the relevant airport in Malta. The aircraft was valued at $1.5 million before its destruction by McLarens, a renowned aircraft valuation firm. However, due to the pre-receivership debt incurred by Arik, Lufthansa Technik seized this.
“The influence-peddling of a recalcitrant debtor to incite security agencies against a public-interest receivership should deeply concern all patriotic Nigerians. Sir Arumemi Johnson’s desperate use of intimidation, “shakedown attempts,” and other shady methods is pitiful, he concluded.