The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained the Managing Director of Medview Airline, Mr. Muneer Bankole, over alleged diversion of Hajj funds.
Mr Bankole was detained after he answered an invitation extended to him by the anti graft commission who are investigating him over alleged $900,000 ‘scam’.
Investigations carried out by HAJJ REPORTERS shows that Medview Airline had signed an Airlift Agreement in 2019 for the Airlift of pilgrims for a total contract sum of “US$8,897,663.63 (eight million, eight hundred and ninety seven thousand, six hundred and sixty three United States Dollars, and sixty three cent)”.
Also, a top official of NAHCON, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press on the matter said “the Commission had paid Med-View Airline 50% of the total contract sum in line with the provisions of Article 4.2 (i) and part of 4.2 (ii) of the airlift agreement”
After failing to perform it’s contractual agreement, NAHCON was forced to draft Max Air and Flynas Airlines to ferry the pilgrims that Medview was supposed to airlift so that the pilgrims will not fail to enjoy the services they paid for.
“The Airline failed to discharge its responsibilities by not positioning any aircraft to airlift pilgrims and has not paid those that rendered services on its behalf,” our source said.
He also said the commission “formally informed Mr. President in its 2019 Hajj report and has obtained his approval to embark on the process of recovering the funds from the airline. There is therefore the need to recover the money in line with the directives of Mr. President”.
Further findings by HAJJ REPORTERS shows that already and through the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), an Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) issued by First Bank on behalf of the Airline with reference FBNLS/SP/0297/AOA/06/2019 dated 13th June, 2019 for the sum of $4,448,831.08 ( Four Million, Four Hundred and Forty-Eight Thousand, Eight Hundred and Thirty-One United States Dollars and Eight Cents) only, is in the custody of the Accounts Department of NAHCON.
We also gathered that the airline had earlier written various petitions to Government which led to the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to address the matter.
Despite the failed attempt of the airline through it’s Managing Director, Mr Bankole to frustrate the quest to get the money back, the EFCC remained unperturbed and has therefore, taken him into custody with a view to getting the remaining balance of about $900,000:00.
Impeccable sources closed to the investigation informed HAJJ REPORTERS that part of the money paid to Medview Airline was traced to purchase of properties outside the country, settlement of an old loan he obtained and personal travel expenses by the Medview MD.
HAJJ REPORTERS learnt that the former NAHCON Chairman, Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed and his team tried their best within the framework of the contractual agreement to assist Medview to be able to operate, but the Airline failed its part of the agreement. Bankole was said to have instead cast aspersions on the leadership of third board of NAHCON for his own failure.
HAJJ REPORTERS recalled that during hajj 2019 post Arafat meeting, the then NAHCON Commissioner in Charge of Operations, Abdullahi Modibo explained how NAHCON tried to assists Medview to overcome its challenges.
He announced that in view of the failure of Medview to airlift a single pilgrim using Medview aircraft in the first leg of the airlift, NAHCON has decided that Medview will not participate in the return leg.
Details of the airlift agreement seen by HAJJ REPORTERS states that “Upon execution of this Airlift Agreement and Commission’s satisfactions with the Carrier’s ability and readiness to carry out the airlift, having inspected the Aircrafts for the operation as duly certified by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) the Commission shall advance the sum of 50% of the total sum and shall be primarily utilized in positioning of the specified aircraft by the Carrier at the designated departure Airports in accordance with the schedule for the out-bound airlift and other related expenses upon submission of a satisfactory Unconditional Advance Payment Guarantee by the Carrier from a reputable Bank acceptable to the Commission.
The documents also stated that “any diversion of the advance payment from this purpose shall constitute a fundamental breach of this Agreement which shall entitle the Commission to terminate the contract and call in the Advance Payment Guarantee in addition to other remedies provided hereunder”.
However, Medview could not position its aircraft or airlift a single pilgrim using its aircraft leading to the termination of the contract by NAHCON and subsequently call for the refund of the 50% mobilization fund.
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