Air Nigeria didn’t get aviation fund, says Ibrahim

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Chairman of NICON Group of Companies, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim denied allegation of diversion of N35 billion out of the N500 billion said to have been released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the moribund Air Nigeria.
The bank through which the fund was paid however faulted Ibrahim’s claim.

Ibrahim, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation yesterday insisted that Air Nigeria, like others, did not receive any fund.

It was at the ongoing investigation of alleged diversion of N500 billion intervention funds for aviation and power sectors .
He noted that when he took over Virgin Nigeria, it left a debt of $250 million which he said was offset through assets from his group of companies.

He said NICON group, to which Air Nigeria belonged, approached the bank, which was also Virgin Nigeria’s banker to secure a loan of N35.5 billion which the bank obtained from the Bank of Industry (BOI).

He added that the airline secured another $40 million loan from the Afrexim Bank, which he claimed had been fully paid back.
Ibrahim noted that he ran the airline for only two years before it was grounded by the regulatory agencies.
He said the defunct Virgin Nigeria was owned by two categories of people which he grouped into Category A and Category B.
Category A, he said, comprised the original owner, Richard Branson, whom he said had all the powers while category B consisted of a group of Nigerian investors who owned 49 per cent of the shares.
He said Branson offered the shares to investors at $1 per one as he listed institutional investors in the company in Nigeria to include Wema Securities.
He explained that with the agreement of all involved, his group of companies bought the airline 100 per cent.
He insisted that he never had access to the intervention fund neither did he apply to CBN, the custodian of the fund for any loan.

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