Kachikwu, Emefiele caught in fresh scandal

By Post Nigeria April 10, 2016 12:09

Kachikwu, Emefiele caught in fresh scandal

Top rated Canadian made private jets chartered regularly by the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, are now being flown by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, investigations by PUNCH have shown.

The development is coming as a shock to President Muhammadu Buhari and brings to question the new administration’s criticism of financial recklessness of the previous administration and its resolve to cut costs in the face of falling oil prices.

The Bombardier luxury private jets with cozy interior, flown by Kachikwu and Emefiele belong to VistaJet Holding SA, a Swiss charter airline that has satellite facilities in some countries of the world, including Nigeria.

Diezani had faced sharp criticism for chartering VistaJet’s private jets for several months and accumulating huge sum of bills that was almost half of the cost of a private jet.

The CBN, impeccable sources within the apex bank revealed, had also entered into a long-term and renewable contract with VistaJet.

The contract gives Emefiele unfettered access to one of VistaJet’s luxury planes any time of the day and for whatever number of hours.

According to top officials of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency working in the Air Traffic Control Towers in Lagos and Abuja airports, Emefiele has been flying regularly one of VistaJet’s private jets.

According to unconfirmed sources, the CBN pays $1 million to VistaJet a year for the use of any of its jets by the governor any time.

A top official of the CBN, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the apex bank and VistaJet had signed an agreement that allowed the governor to make use of any of the private jets on demand.

The central bank official, however, said the amount was not up to $1m a year, saying he neither had the details nor the terms of the contract.

The CBN source said, “The CBN entered the agreement, because of flight delays and cancellations associated with domestic airlines. Also, because of the nature of the work of the CBN governor, he may be wanted at the Presidency or any other key place at any time.

“The only way he can meet up is to enter into this kind of arrangement. The frequent disappointments associated with local airlines may not allow this to happen. This is why we bought block hours from the firm.”

However, the CBN on Saturday officially denied that Emefiele, has been making his official travels in private chartered flights.

Although its spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said that was the practice for several years in the past, he further stated that it was stopped by the bank since the 1990s.

According to Mr. Okorafor, private and official chartered flights were used then, “in making urgent travels to meet needs in remote, not-easily-accessible locations or in cases where timing might be critical to matters of urgent national importance.”

This practice, he pointed out, was in place when Charles Soludo and Lamido Sanusi were in office as CBN Governors to meet urgent national assignments, adding that it was stopped long before Mr. Emefiele came into office.

To meet these urgent assignments, including currency movement, Mr. Okorafor said the CBN had to acquire a dedicated jet in the 1990s in recognition of the critical need for it to have smooth operations.

He, however, said the jet was taken over by the military administration when there was a more urgent need for it then at the State House.

Since then, the CBN spokesperson said the bank had occasionally paid for the chartered services of private operators and those of the Presidential Fleet when available.