Former Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika Arrested in N8 Billion Fraud Probe

Nigeria's former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika arrested for fraud and money laundering related to the proposed national carrier Nigeria Air. Allegations include awarding lucrative contracts to his brother's company and misappropriation of funds.

author-image
Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
Updated On
New Update
Former Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika Arrested in N8 Billion Fraud Probe

Former Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika Arrested in N8 Billion Fraud Probe

Hadi Sirika, Nigeria's former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, has been arrested by the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on suspicion of fraud and money laundering related to the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air. Sirika is accused of awarding lucrative contracts worth over 8 billion Nigerian Naira (around $6.3 million) to a company owned by his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika.

The alleged infractions include conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breaches of trust, and money laundering. The EFCC is set to arraign Sirika in court on April 30. The charges against him involve misappropriation of funds, abuse of office, and awarding contracts to companies he had personal interests in during his tenure as minister.

EFCC investigations revealed that Sirika awarded contracts to his brother despite Abubakar's status as a civil servant, and that out of the total contract sum, 3.2 billion Naira was paid to Abubakar's company, Engirios Nigeria Limited, which then transferred the funds to various other companies and individuals. Neither Sirika nor his brother have been able to show any evidence of work done on the contracted projects, which include the Katsina Airport, installation of lifts at the Abuja Aviation House, and the procurement of aircraft and simulator for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria.

Why this matters: The case highlights concerns about corruption and mismanagement in Nigeria's aviation sector. The Nigeria Air project has been plagued by controversy and political problems since its unveiling six years ago, with concerns over potential fraud and the large stake held by the project's main backer, Ethiopian Airlines.

Festus Keyamo, Nigeria's new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, has announced plans to suspend the Nigeria Air project and investigate those involved in pushing it forward. "The Nigeria Air deal was merely 'Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag,'" Keyamo stated, revealing that the EFCC was investigating the deal. Sirika has spent two nights in EFCC custody as interrogators grill him over the failed national carrier project and the fraudulent contracts he allegedly awarded. The investigation has been ongoing for over two months, and Sirika is expected to be arraigned in court next week as the EFCC prepares charges against him.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigeria's ex-Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika arrested for fraud, money laundering
  • Sirika awarded lucrative contracts worth $6.3M to company owned by his brother
  • Allegations include abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation
  • Nigeria Air project plagued by controversy, potential fraud concerns
  • New Minister to suspend Nigeria Air, investigate those involved in the deal