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Aviation Minister, Keyamo Accused Of Shielding Top NCAA Officials In Probe Of Alleged N7billion Fraud

THE Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has been accused of being biased in the probe of some officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in alleged N7billion fraud, according to sources in the ministry who spoke with SaharaReporters on Monday.

The minister was accused of nepotism following the suspension of Captain Musa Nuhu, the NCAA Director General by the President Bola Tinubu government over corruption allegations while his collaborators in the agency were spared.

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They revealed that Keyamo had shown bias in the matter by not suspending nine other officials of the NCAA, who were also allegedly implicated in the embezzlement of the N7billion missing from Duty Tour Allowance (DTA).

The sources claimed that the nine NCAA officials, who are from the same Southern region as Keyamo, had not been suspended, unlike the DG, Captain Nuhu.

The indicted officials from the South-South region had continued to enjoy promotions while quietly returning the stolen funds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), one of the sources revealed.

They noted that the civil service rules stated that any civil servant indicted for corrupt practices should be suspended during the investigation.

“However, the NCAA officials remained in their positions, in contrast to the suspended DG from the Northern region,” another source added.

The EFCC was also criticised for allegedly compromising the investigation, which has resulted in the failure to charge the indicted officials to court after a year of investigation.

“The civil service rules are clear that an official indicted in a corruption case should be relieved of their duties to clear their name. However, this rule has not been applied to the nine other officials, potentially due to their Southern origin,” another source corroborated.

The allegedly favoured NCAA officials are identified as; Obene Jenbarimiema Turniel, Hart Benson, Henry Okorie, Patrick Ejinaka, Edet Enemisit, Laisisi Olayinka, Olumide Salau, Davidson Udeme, and Esuruoso Olayinka.

The source pointed out that the DG’s suspension was meant to allow for an unfettered EFCC investigation, yet the officers involved in the investigation had not been suspended.

The source suggested that the EFCC’s management should reassess the investigation to ensure no internal corruption has affected the case.

“After a year of investigation, the EFCC has failed to charge the nine accused officers to court, opting instead to collect repayments from them in secret tranches. Only the DG and four others were swiftly suspended and charged.

“In March 2023, the EFCC arrested four top officials of the NCAA over allegations of fraud amounting to N2 billion in DTA, later discovered to be N7billion,” the source said.

The source, familiar with the NCAA’s internal workings, criticised the EFCC for conducting a superficial investigation, suggesting that a thorough probe could reveal over N20billion in stolen funds.

SaharaReporters got across to the NCAA for clarifications but there was no response yet from the agency as of the time of filing this report.

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