Shareholders of Arik Air have debunked the claim by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) that it was indebted to lessors and financial institutions to the tune of N240 billion before the take of the airline on February 9, 2017.
A document obtained by Nairametrics, dated September 20, 2023, with the head: ‘Arik Air Receivership – How Alhaji Ahmed Kuru, MD-AMCON Misinformed and Misled the Government,’ and sighed by its shareholders, insisted that the former managers of the airline were servicing the airline’s debts as at when due before the “forceful” intervention of the career over six years ago.
Arik Air’s Financial Status at AMCON’s Takeover
The airline explained that as of February 9, 2017, when AMCON took over the airline, Arik Air was not in default of any of its financial lease and operating loan obligations to any bank, including the European Credit Agency (ECA)/HSBC facility.
The shareholders claimed that with the 2010 Banking Reforms, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), directed the conversion of all local bank guarantees of foreign loans from off-balance sheet to on-balance sheet.
It stated that with this directive, AMCON took over the European Credit Agency (ECA)/HSBC finance facility supported by the local guarantee of Union Bank Plc.
The shareholders alleged AMCON then renegotiated the facility with Union Bank from single-digit to double-digit interest rate without the involvement of Arik Air management.
They maintained that this was done without recourse to the fact that Arik Air had been servicing the facility without default for about three years.
What the shareholders said
The shareholders said:
“The MD of AMCON should cross-check his facts as his agency never filed the sum of N240 billion, in its claim of the airline’s indebtedness in any court.
“This is patently false, contradictory, and misleading. We ask him to consult his lawyers to spare the public the needless overload of his misinformation.
It is an incontrovertible fact that Arik had no issues with aircraft lessors and financiers, and neither was any aircraft impounded/seized anywhere in the world until mid – 2019 well into the receivership by AMCON when the lessors were not paid as directed by the CBN letter of 14 March 2017 to all banks.”
On the controversial NG Eagle, Arik shareholders regretted that AMCON under the leadership of Alhaji Ahmed as its Managing Director, funded the startup airline from Arik sales proceeds.
The shareholders alleged that the buyer of the NG Eagle, Alhaji Abdul Ahmad, was an acquaintance of Kuru and a bureau de change operator selling forex to Arik.
Accusations and Legal Disputes
They declared that the sale transaction of NG Eagle was another breach of public procurement and assets disposal protocols, maintaining that the sale transaction of NG Eagle was inappropriately done on February 20, 2023, after a date had been reserved for judgment in the matter of Arik Shareholders Vs Kamilu Omokide, AMCON, NG Eagle & Ors at the Federal High Court Lagos.
The shareholders further accused Kuru of misleading the Acting CBN Governor to grant a waiver for the lease and use of the Arik aircraft by the same NG Eagle without telling him of a subsisting court order.
The document added:
“The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has recently ruled that the set-up of NG Eagle and transfer of assets of Arik Air to the said NG Eagle is illegal, null, and void.
The court also ordered AMCON, and its Receiver Manager to file audited accounts of Arik Air from 9 February 2017 with the Corporate Affairs Commission within 14 days of its judgement on 31 March 2023.
“Though AMCON used the court’s exparte order to take over Arik, it disobeyed the same courts when ordered to file audited accounts.”
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