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FirstNation Airways denies fraud allegation, threatens legal action

FirstNation Airways denies fraud allegation, threatens legal action

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Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

FirstNation Airways has denied charges of fraud and stealing levelled against it and its Chief Executive Officer, Kayode Odukoya, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The airline stated on Friday that the charges were bogus and without basis, and targeted to impugn its integrity.

“FirstNation hereby categorically denies all the charges of fraud and stealing preferred by the EFCC against us and our CEO, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, based on a false and dubious petition by Skye Bank Plc. The charges are bogus and without basis and targeted to impugn our integrity and we will vigorously defend ourselves in court,” the airline said in a statement signed by Ademola Daniel.

“As the matter is sub judice, we are unable to discuss any further details but we wish to clarify and correct the malicious misrepresentations made against us to the media,” the airline added.

The EFCC had on March 16, 2018 arraigned Odukoya, alongside FirstNation Airways, and the parent organisation, Bellview Airlines, on four counts bordering on forgery, use of forged documents, perjury and stealing of N1.7bn.

The Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, on Monday, however, granted a N10m bail to Odukoya.

The airline stated that although the charge was filed as far back as December 11, 2017, the EFCC did not inform either Odukoya or FirstNation of its existence even though they, in good faith, continued to visit the anti-graft agency’s office on December 16, 2017, as well as February 6 and March 13, 2018.

According to the airline, the impression created in court that Odukoya was avoiding arraignment was wrong as FirstNation only learnt of the charges through social media on March 9, 2018.

The airline added, “On becoming aware of the charges through the social media, Mr. Kayode Odukoya voluntarily visited the EFCC on March 13, 2018 at 10am, and was subsequently detained despite the fact that he was already on an administrative bail. Given the fact that the charge had already been filed, he should then have been immediately served with same to allow him to effectively defend the action.

“Instead, Odukoya was only served with the charge on Thursday and arraigned on Friday, March 16, 2018, well outside the 48 hours required by law. It is instructive that we clarify that FirstNation does not owe any other banking institution, local or abroad, and dispute in good faith any indebtedness to Skye Bank Plc. We will vigorously defend our innocence with respect to the charges and are confident that we will obtain justice from the court.”

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