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Arik Air Receivership: Court Refuses Application To Prevent Airline Founder, Aruremi-Ikhide From Cooperating With Fraud Investigation



A Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, on Tuesday, refused an ex parte application seeking to restrain the founder of Arik Air, Mr Johnson Aruremi-Ikhide from cooperating with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) in an investigation.

The investigation is into the receivership of his company by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

One Mr Kamilu Omokide, the AMCON receivership had sought an interim injunction restraining Arumemi-Ikhide, through motion ex parte filed before the court in suit No FHC/C/LS/145/122.

Omokide, who is the applicant in the suit brought the motion ex parte on the grounds that “on June 8, 2023, ostensibly while investigating the petition, officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) entered the premises of Arik in Ikeja, Lagos, along with the Respondent (Arumemi Johnson).

“Having gained entry alongside the officers of the EFCC on the said date, the Respondent took it upon himself to interfere in the Applicant’s management of Arik, disrupt Arik’s business, and hinder employees in the performance of their duties, by threatening Arik employees and alleging that they were disloyal to him for supporting the receivership;

“Demanding and obtaining from Ark employees operational documents relating to the management of Arik; taking pictures of confidential operational documents without due authorisation of the Applicant; verbally assaulting and intimidating Arik employees, thus preventing them from discharging their official duties; accessing Arik aircraft hangars without due authorization of the Applicant.”

However, ruling on the application, the court asked Omokide to put the defendant on Notice before adjourning the matter.

Omokide recently disobeyed the orders of the same court that he should file the six years of audited accounts of his Arik Air receivership at the Corporate Affairs Commission and grant unfettered access to the board and shareholders of Arik Air, where Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide is the chairman.

In June 2023, the EFCC detained Omokide, the Receiver Manager appointed by the AMCON for Arik Nigeria Limited, over the alleged diversion of about N120 billion.

SaharaReporters had reported that the EFCC detained Omokide alongside one Captain Samuel Caulcrick in connection with the alleged illegal sale and teardown of $41 million CRJ 1000 aircraft which was operated by Arik Air.

It was gathered that the detention of the two top executives was sequel to a petition written by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), who is also Arik Nigeria Limited’s lawyer.

In a copy of the petition obtained by SaharaReporters, Falana detailed how there had been humongous financial fraud and the sale of assets reaching over N120 billion.

The petition, addressed to the EFCC chairman, and dated April 27, read in part, “We are Solicitors to Arik Nigeria Limited (hereinafter referred to as “our client”), on whose behalf and specific instructions we write you. Our client operates an airline in the aviation industry by offering air transportation services for passengers and cargo in Nigeria and has been in business since 2006.

“In compliance with an ex parte Order of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) appointed a receiver manager to manage our client’s assets due to its financial obligation to some banks.

“Pursuant to the said ex parte order, the said receiver manager has been overseeing the affairs of our client’s assets pursuant from 2017 to date. In the course of running the airline business the receiver has engaged in financial mismanagement, diversion of monies, sales of assets and misappropriation of funds belonging to Arik Airline.

“The details of the financial management, diversion of monies, sale of assets and misappropriation of fund are set out below: 1. Fraudulent contracts awarded: a. Aircraft lease Agreement No. OLY-ARIK/ACMI/A321/202001-21 between Olympus and Arik Air-In-Receivership, executed on November 1,2019 with the following details:

“Listed Lease Contracted Aircraft: A321 MSN1015 Reg# SX-ACP; Listed Contracted aircraft delivery date: 01 Feb 2020 and for consideration of the sum of N91,187,500.00 (Ninety-One Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Naira) withdrawn from our client’s (USD) account domiciled at Keystone Bank with account No: 1006835708 on February 11, 2020. There has been no specific performance to the subject matter of the said contract up till date, no service has been carried out, nor was there aircraft or a refund of the consideration furnished for the said contract.

“A. Clobek Nigeria Limited with Company’s Registration No. 899094, a real estate firm with its registered office at Abuja purportedly entered into ACMI damp Lease Agreement with Arik Air-In-Receivership in a profit-sharing ratio of Arik 55% and 45% respectively for one Unit aircraft B737-700 MSN 38127 (E1-GVW). However, Clobek Nigeria Limited, is neither registered nor licensed as an aviation services company by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), thereby unauthorized and ineligible to provide aviation services.

“The said company received questionable payments of N579,902,982.58 for flight operations services from Arik Air-In-Receivership. The Receiver Manager abandoned the several younger Arik Air new-generation aircraft for self-gratifying lease deals and a dubious profit-sharing arrangement. A. The receiver manager executed AIRCRAFT DAMP [A.C.M.I.J LEASE AGREEMENT with Eznis Airways LCC, a Mongolian registered airline lease of one unit Boeing 737-700 Reg No E1 – Engines (the same aircraft purportedly financed by Clobek Nigeria Limited in a profit-sharing arrangement. Some records of payments for Arik Air in Receivership to Eznis are questionable, e.g., multiple security deposits, maintenance, hotel accommodation etc for being duplicated to Clobek and conflicting with aircraft usage.”

Reacting to the reports, Omokide in a statement signed by his Public Relations Consultant, Simon Tumba, said the investigation was instigated by the majority shareholder in Arik Air, Johnson.

According to him, Johnson “owes AMCON about N240 billion as at May 31, 2023”.

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