AMCON MD made false statement against Arik Air -Shareholders

Arik Air Limited Shareholders on Thursday, faulted the statement credited to the Managing Director of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, Alhaji Ahmed Kuru, on the destruction of Arik by AMCON and its receiver manager(s).

The shareholders in a statement said Kuru’s comment was a “desperate attempt to misinform Nigerians and distort the facts,” adding that it was open for dialogue with AMCON before investigative authorities to establish the facts.

The statement read, “The attention of the shareholder have been drawn to a statements attributed to Alhaji Kuru, the MD of AMCON.

Arik Air

“It is unfortunate that a senior government official, Alhaji Kuru, entrusted with the vital responsibility in the economic affairs of Nigeria will publicly make false and misleading statements in order to justify the monumental damage he led against Arik Air.

“This is a private airline that has proudly flown Nigeria’s flag around the world, while conducting its business constructively and contributing to the economic growth and development of Nigeria. While we wish to refrain from media assaults and trials of persons as Alhaji Kuru/AMCON has done repeatedly in the past six years, we are beholden with the moral duty to set the records straight, in order to expose the desperate attempt to misinform Nigerians and distort the facts of the monumental destruction of Arik by AMCON and its receiver Manager(s).

“We wish to state as follows; On the forceful takeover of Arik, we state unequivocally that as at February 9, 2017, when AMCON forced Arik Air into the receivership management of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, the airline 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.

“Suffice it to state that with the 2010 banking reforms, the CBN directed the conversion of all local bank guarantees of foreign loans from off-balance sheet to on-balance sheet.

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“Thus, with this CBN directive, AMCON took over the European Credit Agency, ECA/HSBC finance facility supported by the local guarantee of Union Bank Plc. AMCON renegotiated the facility with Union Bank from single digit to double digit interest rate without involving Arik Air management.

“This was done arbitrarily without recourse to the fact that Arik Air had been servicing that facility without default for about three years, a case of shaving a man’s head in his absence.

“It is a disservice to the nation for Alhaji Kuru to attribute Arik forceful Air take-over to the call for intervention by former Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo while acting as President. This is a clear affirmation that it was an unnecessary intervention and an act of meddling in the affairs of a private company.

“We find it laughable that Alhaji Kuru would attempt to place the responsibility for AMCON’s misadventure in Arik on the former Vice President.

“We believe the former VP acted on the advice given by Alhaji Kuru.

“Arik Air shareholders request that the AMCON MD should cite to the public the relevant section of the AMCON Act which authorises or legitimises his use of security reports and hearsays of flights delays as the basis for an airline take over.

He simply admitted he went beyond his authority 

“Clearly this is a very poor attempt at justifying the takeover of Arik. He has simply admitted he went beyond the authority of his office and took actions that are reprimandable.

“Alhaji Kuru exposed the depth of his ignorance and mischief by claiming Arik owned only seven aircraft.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we hereby state categorically that Arik had 17 serviceable and operational aircraft and two aircraft parked for minor maintenance when AMCON took over on February 9, 2017.

“Suffice it to state that Arik takeover did not follow the due process of taking inventories of assets, liabilities etc and proper hand-over.

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“Arik Air under AMCON’s receivership as at September 20, 2023, managed by Kamilu Omokide operates only two aircrafts.

“The Arik Hangar in Lagos is now a static display of 14 abandoned new generation aircraft while the rest have been cut to pieces, sold, and shipped out of the country.

“The spare parts inventory of Arik valued at over $150million has been significantly depleted to less than $15million.

“About 80 percent of domestic routes have been shut down while all west coast, African and intercontinental routes of London, New York, etc have all been shut down completely after three months of operation by AMCON in 2017.

“ In addition, over 3000 of Ariik highly trained manpower have lost their jobs. What an achievement for AMCON that claimed it got the best turn around

“Prior to the AMCON invasion, Arik Air had no issues with its lessors and financiers, the onus, however, lies with Alhaji Kuru and Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of CBN to explain the basis of the CBN’s letter dated March 14, 2017.

“In that letter, the CBN directed all Nigerian bank partners of Arik Air to discontinue the long-standing arrangement for scheduled contracted payments on behalf of Arik to its trade/financial partners.

“The Arik model involved the collection of all tickets’ sales proceeds by our Bankers who were mandated to ensure the first charge on all sales proceeds were paid to lessors and multilateral lenders.

“This arrangement guaranteed Arik could not default on its financial obligations.

“Contrary to Alhaji Kuru’s uninformed statements claiming engine swaps on Arik aircraft; the Arik Air fleet comprises new generation aircraft with OEM engines/warranties that do not require any form of engine swaps.

He resorted to false information to the public

“Again, in a desperate attempt to cover the mismanagement of the airline, he resorted to false information to the public.

“Alleged Indebtedness To AMCON The MD of AMCON should cross check his facts as his agency never filed the sum of N240B, in its claim of the airline’s indebtedness in any court.

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“This is patently false, contradictory, and misleading. We ask him to consult his lawyers so as 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 March 14, 2017, to all banks.

“It is regrettable that Mr Kuru was economical with the truth on the issue of NG Eagle.

“The incorporation documents obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission’s records shows that NG Eagle was incorporated on July 11, 2019, with an AMCON’s employee, Mr Kamilu Omokide ( Arik Receiver Manager) as Shareholder/Director and AMCON as second shareholder with other AMCON employees as Directors in a breach of fiduciary duties to Arik by Kamilu Omikide.

“Alhaji Kuru also did not tell Nigerians that the registration, establishment, and expenses for the NG Eagle AOC was funded from Arik sales proceeds.

“The buyer of the NG Eagle is Alhaji Abdul Ahmad, an acquaintance of Alhaji Kuru and bureau de change operator selling FX to Arik.

“This sale transaction of NG Eagle is another breach of public procurement/assets disposal protocols.

“The sale transaction was done in a hush hush arrangement on 20th February 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.

Kuru also recently misled Acting CBN Governor

“Alhaji Kuru also recently misled the Acting CBN Governor to grant a waiver for the lease and use of the Arik aircraft by the same NG Eagle without informing the Acting Governor of CBN of a subsisting order of court.

“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.

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“The court also ordered AMCON, and its Receiver Manager to file audited accounts of Arik Air from February 9, 2017, with the Corporate Affairs Commission within 14 days of its judgment on March 31, 2023.

“Though AMCON used the courts exparte order to take-over Arik, it disobeyed the same courts when ordered to file audited accounts.

“AMCON forcefully took over performing financial obligations. The fact remains that AMCON forcefully took over performing loans and must be made to account for its stewardship.

“Arik shareholders hereby challenge AMCON’s MD and the banks he claimed are owed by Arik Air to provide proof, records of the indebtedness, default, and demand letters from such banks.

“It is time to put a stop to AMCON’s deception and misinformation to the government and people of Nigeria.

“It is unfortunate that Alhaji Ahmed Kuru’s eight year tenure as the Managing Director of AMCON in a national role that should be developmental turned-out to be a season of disruption of businesses In Nigeria.

“It caused heavy job losses, capital and businesses capacity deficits and unprecedented economic setbacks through some unjustifiable receiverships and mismanagement caused by AMCON’s arbitrariness and deliberate misinformation to government.

“We, the shareholders of Arik, are willing and ready for an open dialogue with AMCON in the presence of the relevant investigative authorities including the Police, EFCC, the CBN, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace. We come to equity with clean hands and ask that AMCON do the same,” the statement added.

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