Medview Airlines has finally spoken on the alleged 2019 hajj scam, clarifying that the fund was used for necessary preparations including aircraft maintenance and payment to service providers.
The airline’s Executive Director, Business Development, Isiaq Na-Allah, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday.
Na-Allah denied that the airline was involved in a scam or diversion of funds meant for the 2019 Hajj transportation, adding that the invitation of the airline CEO, Muneer Bankole, by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was to provide information on its Hajj Operations contract with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
He said, “Specifically, out of the much-touted $900,000, NAHCON paid the money directly to two service providers in Saudi Arabia, namely General Authority of Aviation ($400,000 and Taibah Airports Development Company ($500,000), on July 5, 2019.
“In spite of deft moves by some highly placed persons to frustrate the airline from the operations with the late release of funds, Medview Airline airlifted 4,387 pilgrims from Kaduna, Yobe, and the Ogun States. The Pilgrims Boards in those states are living witnesses of the operation.
“In line with the terms of the contract with NAHCON, a Presidential committee was raised to reconcile the differences in payment to the airline and the number of pilgrims airlifted, and this later metamorphosed into a Ministerial Committee, where all issues were resolved,” the statement read in part.
Na-Allah, therefore, said it was “strange for somebody to wake up and go to the rooftop, armed trumpets and cymbal for a non-existent scam or diversion of funds all to smear Medview Airline Plc”.
He noted that the airline was resolute to return to its leadership role in Hajj operations.
The EFCC on February 2, questioned the Medview Airline Managing Director, Muneer Bankole, for alleged fraud.
Bankole was detained at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, after an invitation by investigators.
The matter is a case of alleged diversion, in which Bankole was accused of retaining 50 percent of funds paid by NAHCON.