N12.5 debt: Arik Air has paid N18.9b to FAAN -Arumemi -Ikhide
The management of Arik Air has disclosed it has so far paid N18.9 billion to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN based on the claims by the management of FAAN that it owes them N12.5 bllion.
Speaking during a press briefing at the headquarters of the airline in Lagos, the chairman of Arik Air, Sir Johnson Arumemi -Ikhide stated that out of the payment, the management of FAAN had only acknowledged the sum of N11.4 billion as what Arik has paid.
Arumemi -Ikhide while apologising to passengers on the development that led to the suspension of its operations in Lagos on Wednesday said the airline has recommenced operations after it was suspended.
Arik Air chairman explained that there have been attempts in the past to reconcile the the debt by the then Senate committee chairman on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodimma, but that FAAN asked for two week to bring their records, but later asked for another four weeks and nothing was heard from them again until this their latest action.
He explained further that when the former permanent secretary of the ministry of Aviation, Hajia Binta Bello intervened, she clarified that the debt should be reconciled based on verifiable facts and documents, but FAAN did not show up again till date.
Arik Chairman said since the incident happened on Wednesday, the airline has made futile attempts to speak with the management of FAAN on the matter, but has also had a fruitful discussion with the minister of state for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
He said even at that, Arik had some claims from FAAN like the Calabar incident where it’s aircraft was damaged.
The aircraft has been repaired by our technical partner, Lufthansa Technik which the bill has been forwarded to FAAN and it has not responded, he said.
Arik Chairman said the airline has about N6billion claim from FAAN which accrued from the transportation of its passengers which FAAN supposed to render at the airports but Arik Air ended up doing that on their own plus other amount from other things.
He stated further that Arik has also paid, N7.3billion to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA as part of what it owes the agency.
Sir Arumemi Ikhide said as at 27th of last month till date, Arik has paid N18.9 billion which FAAN acknowledged only N11.4billion.
In his speech also, the managing director of Arik Air, Mr Chris Ndulue described what happened on Wednesday as quite unfortunate.
Mr. Ndulue said Arik Air has agreed to go back and reconcile if there are still outstanding payment to be made.
He said the management of Arik Air were never informed by FAAN before disrupting their operations on Wednesday.
The MD said since the matter is still pending before the court, he will not like to make comment that will be sub judice to the matter in court.
Speaking also on the case, the Airline’s legal Counsel, Barrister Emeka Nwigwe from Babajide Koku (SAN) chambers explained that FAAN instituted the legal suit against Arik Air in 2015, that when the case came up for hearing, FAAN told the court that they are not minded to hold the case, saying they do not want to disrupt Arik operations.
Barr. Nwigwe said Arik Air has made payment to FAAN in access of N16billion.
According to him, FAAN has recognised the fact that the amount it claimed Arik is owing them is not certain as they are not sure of the amount.
He said based on that, some audit firms were suggested so as to reconcile the figures like PWC, Delloitte and others, but instead FAAN wrote that it has taken the case to the Attorney General of the federation for mediation.
Nwigwe added that even when the case came up for hearing few days ago in court, FAAN said the case is being resolved amicably, only for them to disrupt his client operations using the unions.
He said for FAAN to resort to safe help is an affront on the Federal High Court and the nation.
The action that happened yesterday (Wednesday) is highly contemptuous as FAAN has to act according to the rules of the court, because no party should take action on a case pending before the court, Nwigwe said.
According to him, it pertinent that FAAN do not have the documents to substantiate their claims on the alleged debt.
He said since the matter is before the court, Arik will abide by the decisions of the court.
L-R: Legal Counsel to Arik Air, Miss Jacinta Obinugwu and Mr. Emeka Nwigwe; Managing Director Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue and Chairman, Arik Air, Sir Joseph Arumemi Ikhide; during the Press Conference by Arik to address the grounding of their Operation by FAAN Union on Wednesday on the Alleged Indebtedness to FAAN in Lagos