Nigeria: Med-View Airline, NAHCON Disagree Over Airlift Contract's Term

23 August 2019

Lagos — Med-View Airline PLC, one of the approved air carriers for the 2019 hajj airlift has petitioned the Presidency accusing the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) of reneging on contractual agreement with it on the airlift of the pilgrims.

The airline in separate petitions to the Presidency said the agency overseeing hajj affairs in the country acted in flagrant contravention of the agreement and frustrated Med-View Airline from carrying out the airlift exercise.

Daily Trust reports that Med-View is one of the three airlines approved by NAHCON. The airline, during the outbound trip to the Saudi Arabia, airlifted pilgrims from Kaduna, Yobe, Ogun, Maiduguri, among others.

But NAHCON through its Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Saleh, had said that Med-View would not airlift pilgrims back home because of its failure to transport them from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia during the outbound flight.

However, records from NAHCON website indicated that Med-View airlifted 4,383 pilgrims in five days of the exercise, with eight airlifts.

Med-View claimed that NAHCON frustrated it and attempted to compel the airline to partner with a Saudi Arabian's carrier, Flynas despite its partnership with another Nigerian airline, Max Air, also appointed to participate in the airlift exercise.

Daily Trust learnt that Med-View had however petitioned the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

The solicitor to Med-View, Barrister Debo Adeleke, the Principal Lead Counsel, Maritime, Commercial and Immigration Law Chambers disclosed that Med-View Airline made down payment of $8,897,663.63 as the total contractual sum for the airlift of 5, 720 pilgrims on May 20, 2019 with First Bank as the guarantor.

He said the contractual agreement stipulated that on execution of the contract, NAHCON was to make 50 per cent payment to Med-View, which was supposed to be $4,448,831.08 to enable the airline to conclude all necessary arrangements for the commencement of the hajj operations.

But, rather than 50 per cent in the contractual sum, the commission made available only 25 per cent payment on July 15, 2019, five days into the exercise. According to him, Med-View was given $2,412,539.

A letter dated July 5, 2019, signed by Alhaji Muneer Bankole, the Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airline and addressed to the Chairman, NAHCON, demanded for payment of $900,000 to be made available to General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and TAIBA, $400,000 and $500, 000, respectively.

The letter with the title: "Demand note for Payment to GACA and TAIBA," reads in part: "As a result of exigency with regards to preparation for 2019 hajj airlift exercise, we wrote to request for payment of the sum of $900,000 to GACA and TAIBAH as analysed below: (i) GACA - $400,000 and (ii) TAIBAH - $500, 000."

Med-View in another letter with the reference number: MCILC/STFGN/NCBTAAB/01/19, dated August 5, 2019 and addressed to the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, insists NAHCON had malice against it.

The document claimed that the entire 100 per cent was to be returned to the airline in four tranches; 50, 30, 10 and another 10 per cent, but as at August 5, the agreement was not redeemed by NAHCON.

In another petition to the Acting Chairman, National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), dated August 16, 2019 and copied the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and First Bank, the solicitor to Med-view said that the letter written by NAHCON, stating that it had paid the sum of $5,576,582.50, representing 63 per cent of the total contract of $8,897,663.63 was incorrect.

It said that Flynas, a foreign carrier was "selfishly imposed on our client against the indigenous airline in the name of Max Airline."

The spokesperson of NAHCON, Mrs. Fatima Usara, who was contacted for comments since Tuesday, promised to get back to our correspondent. A reminder was sent to her on Wednesday, but she has yet to response to our reporter's enquiries as of the time of filing this report.

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