Former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has accused the lawmaker who branded the launch of Nigeria Air as fraud, of demanding five percent shares of the national airline from him.
During a hearing by the House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, had declared the launch of Nigeria Air a scam.
He had picked holes in the project, criticising the Federal Government for what he described as poor handling, anc stressing that after careful evaluation of the matter, his committee was dissatisfied with the actions of Sirika.
“A careful review of the process indicates the exercise to be highly opaque, shrouded in secrecy, shoddy and capable of ridiculing and tarnishing the image of Nigeria before the international community,” he had said.
But speaking when he appeared on ARISE TV on Sunday, Sirika said the lawmaker approached him and asked for five percent shares of the airline for “him and his people”.
“On the issue of Hon Nnaji who called Nigeria Air launch a fraud, I will respond now. I will say exactly what I told him in private when we spoke.
“Hon Nnaji asked me that I should give him 5% of Nigeria Air to carry him along with his people, and I said to him at that time, Honourable, a bidding process has taken place, and some people won. So, I think you should go to those people and ask for the 5 percent.”
When pressed to clarify if the lawmaker indeed asked for bribe for himself and other legislators, Sirika said: “Let’s be fair, Hon Nnaji didn’t say other members. He said he wants it for himself and his people. His people could his family, could be (Rep) Members and it could be leadership. I don’t know, but he insisted on 5%. I said that he should relax and approach the owners. That’s exactly what I told him.”
The former Minister also criticised Nnaji and the Aviation Committee for conducting what termed a “predetermined hearing”.
“I was a member of the House of Reps 20 years ago, and 10 years ago, I was a Senator. I know the workings of the National Assembly. He (Nnaji) called for public hearing. And right under the public hearing, he just turned the paper and read the riot act.
“The practice in the National Assembly is that after hearing people and the complain, you now go and sit down as a committee, discuss the issues, raise them, approach the whole House of Reps and take position of the house plus leadership and come back and make your findings known, but not immediately you just read the Riot Act out. It means is predetermined”, Sirika stated.