Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has claimed that the three companies owned by the founder of Arik Air, Sir. Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide owed it a total of N400 billion in debts before the takeover.
The corporation also debunked the claim that it engaged in the illegal sale of three aircraft and spare parts belonging to Arik Air after it took over the airline in 2017.
Rather AMCON said the controversial aircraft; Q-400, CRJ-1000 and CRJ-900 were taken over by their foreign owner who decided to sell them to new owners.
A statement by the media consultant to AMCON, SY&T Communications said that Arik Air for instance, remained indebted to AMCON to the tune of over N240 billion.
It added that Rockson and Ojemai Farms, all companies owned by Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, are indebted to AMCON to the tune of over N400 billion.
It maintained that rather than engage in “fruitless campaigns of calumny,” Arumemi-Ikhide should approach it for the payment of the loans.
Debunks Sales Of Three Aircraft
Besides, denied that it illegally sold some of the airline’s aircraft and spare parts as claimed by Arumemi-Ikhide.
According to AMCON, the aircraft; Q-400, CRJ-1000 and CRJ-900 were acquired on loan by the Arumemi-Ikhide through the Export Development Canada (EDC).
The corporation stressed that EDC served as the export bank to support the production and export of made-in-Canada goods.
According to AMCON, Arumemi-Ikhide had approached Bombardier, a Canadian company, to purchase planes for his aviation business and approached EDC to grant loans to support the purchase request.
The corporation stated that EDC agreed an acceptable structure to the lending requests taking into consideration Nigeria country risks, adding that the Canadian company agreed to extend loans to an entity called JEM Leasing Limited towards meeting Arik’s equipment needs.
AMCON added that the company was registered as a special purpose company in a tax haven, while Arik had no shares in it.
It clarified that JEM Leasing Limited, then purchased two Bombardier Q-400 aircraft with one spare engine and one Bombardier CRJ-1000 aircraft for Arik Air in the deal, which were pledged to EDC.
It added that JEM Air Limited was fully responsible for paying-off the loan on the two planes acquired, adding that the Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorisation (DERA) were duly executed in favour of JEM Leasing and EDC.
AMCON insisted these were duly noted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
According to AMCON, Arik had paid lease sums directly to EDC in settlement of the loan obligations of JEM Leasing Limited to EDC, maintaining that Arumemi-Ikhide, on behalf of Arik (pre-receivership), had approached the Federal Government of Nigeria for a waiver of customs duty on the planes, which was granted.
Arik’s Financial Difficulties
It however regretted that due to Arik’s financial difficulties, pre-receivership, the management of the airline defaulted on the lease obligations related to the Q400 and CRJ 1000 aircraft.
The statement added: “Post-receivership, the receivership team, after initial struggles with meeting lease rentals on the planes, decided to exit the CRJ line of planes. It further agreed not to interfere with EDC’s mortgage rights over the CRJs.
- “To come to the decision, the receivership team took into consideration the history of technical availability of the planes, the lack of capital by Arik to buy or effectively overhaul engines, and the need to reduce the complexity of Arik’s operations with several aircraft types in the fleet. An independent valuation of the planes by a specialist international company was conducted.
- “EDC agreed to write off Arik’s outstanding lease obligations on the CRJ 1000 aircraft owed to JEM Leasing Limited, which is under its control. Compared to their valuation, this was a good deal for Arik.
- “EDC confirmed in a letter dated April 21, 2023, that they sold the two CRJ900 aircraft. The decision to sell was made by EDC, not the receivership team of Arik. Regarding the CR1000 aircraft, EDC negotiated with a buyer who chose to dismantle it into its constituent parts.”
AMCON explained that JEM Leasing Limited, the alleged owner of the CRJ aircraft, had confirmed this in a letter dated May 5, 2023 that it sold the plane to a new owner who decided to dismantle the plane.
Nigeria Customs Invitation
Recalled that The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had earlier in the week. invited the management of Arik Air over the alleged cannibalisation of three aircraft and subsequent re-exportation of the same machines.
A document with the head: ‘Re: Request for Physical Inspection of Boeing 737NG. MSN: 28640, Reg No. 5N-MJI; Bombardier CRJ-900, MSN: 15059, Reg: No: 5N-JEB; And CRJ-900ER, MSN: 15058, Reg. No. 5N-JEA,’ signed by I.G. Umar, the Comptroller, Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) and dated October 3, 2023, said that the explanation offered to its earlier enquiry on the same airplanes was sketchy and needed further clarification.
The document advised the management of Arik Air to come in person to the CIU headquarters for better clarification.
AMCON, however, said that it was cooperating with NCS on its investigation on the controversial aircraft.
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