24 September 2012

Nigeria: Minister Suspends Legal Action Against Arik Air

The Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has suspended legal action against Arik Air over allegation that she demanded five per cent equity participation in the airline.

Mr Joe Obi, the Special Adviser on Media to the minister, disclosed this to news men on Monday in Abuja.

Obi said the minister decided to suspend legal action after a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, on Friday, Sept. 21.

Obi said the minister, who had directed her lawyers to seek legal redress over the allegation by the management of Arik Air, had decided to suspend actions till further notice in deference to the SGF.

He claimed that the SGF had given the airline a two-week ultimatum to "reconcile the debts it is owing the ministry and return with evidence of payment".

"We don't want to disrespect the admonition of the SGF. We are holding on for now but that will also depend on the progress that will be reported in the next two weeks.

"The SGF has directed Arik Air to go to the ministry and the agencies to reconcile its debts and come back with confirmation of payment to him within two weeks."

NAN recalls that Mr Aniete Okon, the Vice Chairman of Arik Air, had told journalists in Lagos on Sept. 20 that the airline was being punished for its refusal to accede to "the personal interest of the minister".

Responding to the allegation in a statement on Sept 21, the minister threatened to institute legal action against the airline over the "unfounded allegations against her."

The statement said that a recent publication by the management of the airline, which claimed that the minister requested for five per cent equity from the airline, was designed to embarrass her.

It said that Arik Air owed the ministry N85.40 billion and stressed that Oduah had no stake in the company.

The statement added that the minister had never contemplated acquiring a stake in any airline and said that the time was ripe for Arik Air to change its mode of business to enable it resolve its financial crisis.

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