This statement is issued on behalf of Arik Air Limited (in Receivership) (Arik) under the leadership of its Receiver Manager, Omokide, Kamilu Alaba, FCA in response to recent media reports concerning an EFCC investigation into the affairs of Arik. These reports have unjustifiably, and without verification of the facts, linked the Receiver Manager of Arik to financial fraud within Arik.
The investigation is apparently based on a petition filed by Mr. Femi Falana, SAN (the Petition) and was instigated by Sir Arumemi Johnson, the majority shareholder in Arik, which owes AMCON about ₦240Billion as at May 31, 2023. Sir Arumemi Johnson guaranteed, and therefore is by law an obligor in respect of, this indebtedness and is personally liable for them.
The wild allegations of the misappropriation of N120 billion in the petition are manifestly and patently false and amount to no more than well-concocted lies as part of a deliberate campaign of calumny against the Receiver Manager to abort the ongoing receivership in Arik. Indeed, even on the face of the petition, the claims do not add up to N120 billion. It is made up as a publicity stunt.
The Petition intentionally presents a disingenuous and deceptive portrayal of actions which are the typical responsibilities and actions of a Receiver/Manager – falsely implying criminal intent. The reality is very different: it is instead that the Receiver Manager seeks only to recover for the Nigerian people, monies owed to them by this recalcitrant debtor.
The Receiver Manager has been transparent in his dealings in Arik. The Petition, as has been presented in the media, suggests underhand sales of assets, including a number of CRJ Aircraft. These Aircraft were never owned by Arik. They were simply leased by Arik. The planes were owned by JEM Leasing Limited and JEM Air Limited (both foreign companies) and financed by Export Development Canada (a Crown entity of the Government of Canada) (EDC). These two foreign companies and EDC were the principal actors in the sale of the said Aircraft. The Receiver Manager has no influence in respect of the exercise of mortgage rights by a mortgagee. This has been clearly affirmed by EDC who have unequivocally confirmed, including through diplomatic channels, that it was it and the two foreign companies that sold these assets. The accusations against the Receiver Manager are therefore, cynical and unfounded.
Also, the Petition suggests a criminal intent in respect of the JV financing of certain wet lease operations. These JV financings were innovative ways of raising capital due to restrictions on Arik borrowing powers– as it is a company that is technically insolvent and being kept alive only by the magnanimity of AMCON, and Federal aviation agencies.
Furthermore, the Petition raises concerns about the teardown of a Boeing 737-700 Aircraft registered as 5N-MJI – which had been abandoned and cannibalised in Malta ever since 2013 by Arik under the then leadership of Sir Johnson, and years before the receivership commenced. This was a professionally taken decision on an aircraft that was Beyond Economic Repairs (BER) and stood the chance of being sent to the graveyard by authorities of the relevant airport in Malta. The pre-teardown valuation of the Aircraft by McLarens (a foremost Aircraft valuation company) valued the Aircraft at USD1.5Million. This was however seized by Lufthansa Technik over Arik’s indebtedness incurred pre-receivership.
All patriotic Nigerians should be deeply concerned by the influence peddling of a recalcitrant debtor to instigate security agencies against a “public-interest” receivership. The desperate resort by Sir Arumemi Johnson to all forms of bullying, “shake down attempts” and other underhand tactics is pitiful. The tactics have been deployed, and are still being deployed, in contempt of existing court orders, and in respect of matters that are currently before various courts, and it is worrisome that the EFCC is being sought to be used to overreach the courts which are seized of these matters. This should not be allowed to happen or, to the extent that they have already happened, to continue to happen, as it represents forum shopping in respect of issues already before the relevant courts.
The task of recovering monies owed by powerful men who have over time peddled their influence to “game” the system in their favour is tough and sometimes odious. It requires the cooperation of Nigerians and all agencies of government, to achieve. Despite the contrived petitions and unwarranted allegations against the Receiver Manager, he remains resolute and undeterred in ensuring the successful execution of the receivership over Arik.
The Receiver Manager firmly asserts his unwavering determination to steadfastly defend the delicately constructed integrity he has nurtured, firmly refusing to permit any baseless allegations to besmirch it. He assures that he and all staff of Arik Air Limited (in receiver) will accord EFCC maximum cooperation.