Nigerian airlines, Sunday, announced they will no longer pay any money to aviation agencies until the sector is rid of corruption and corrupt people.
This is coming as Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on 31 October following revelations that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, bought two BMW bullet-proof cars for her at the hefty sum of N255 million.
The minister denied the allegations, blaming others for whatever illegality was involved in the purchase of the cars. Documents however show she approved the purchase of the expensive cars that were not included in the agency’s budget and that were beyond her approval limit of N100 million. Worse still, the cars were said to be overpriced.
Announcing its position on Sunday, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, said Nigerian carriers had since November 1 stopped remitting all fees to aviation agencies because of the corruption rocking the sector.
According to Mohammed Tukur, who spoke on behalf of the airlines, the airlines stopped remitting any money to the NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and other relevant aviation bodies to protest against the rot in the sector.
He warned that Nigerian airlines may also ground their operations if nothing is done to ‘clean up’ the sector.
“Due to the ongoing crises, we have resolved to stop the remittances of all charges, both current and outstanding debts to the agencies, pending the time they reform or come clean on the taxes and charges they have collected which runs into several billions of naira,” Tukur said on behalf of Nigerian airlines.
The airlines argued that while aviation charges have continued to skyrocket, the money paid has continued to be misused by the aviation ministry and agencies to buy expensive cars.
Consequently, AON called on the federal government to intervene in the astronomical charges imposed on Nigerian airlines.
“The suspension of payment of taxes, charges took effect from November 1, 2013. We call on the Federal Government and all concerned to set up investigative panel to resolve these anomalies,” Tukur said.
Tukur added that AON was studying the involvement of two of its members with the reported BMW car scam and may sanction them if found culpable.