NAHCO debunks gunrunning, money-laundering allegations by former employee

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L-R: Mrs. Olaitan Ashapa, Company Secretary, NAHCO Freetrade Zone, Norrison Quaker (SAN), company solicitor, Mrs Olatokunbo Fagbemi, GMD NAHCO, Mr. Ezekiel Orinoye, CFO, NFZ.

…seeks court over reputational damage

The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) has debunked media reports aired on two Nigerian television stations suggesting that the company is involved in gunrunning and money laundering deals for unsuspecting criminals.

The reports, which were alleged to have been masterminded by a former employee of NAHCO, named Baba Yusuf were aired on Wednesday October 14, 2020 and Friday October 16, 2020 respectively.

At a press briefing held at its Headquarters in Lagos, the Group Managing Director, NAHCO, Mrs. Adetokunbo Fagbemi, described Yusuf’s allegations as a deliberate attempt to drag the company’s image to the mud.

According to her, Yusuf had issued a threat earlier through his lawyer, to damage the company’s reputation following his failed attempt to force the Nahco Free Zone (NFZ), a subsidiary of NAHCO where he worked briefly as the Managing Director, to pay him an undeserved severance package of N125,900,000, as performance bonus for 7 months of non-performance.

One of his letters issued through his lawyer, Tony Odiadi, on the 13th of June, 2020, states: “Be informed therefore, that if after 10 days from the date of this letter, our client is not paid his entitlements as stated, we shall have no option left but to file necessary invitations to relevant investigative agencies…. The likely damage to your reputation and operational activities of these legal steps will not be one to be lightly allowed. The said legal steps may be taken without further recourse to you.”

But on the contrary, however, Fagbemi disclosed that Yusuf, who resigned voluntarily, did not “raise any of such allegations as issues of concern” during his time at the helms, adding that even upon his resignation, he granted interviews praising the NFZ, NAHCO and the new boards of the two organisations.

The GMD expressed her dismay that rather than approaching the court for perceived justice over his claims, which were put forward base on his self-evaluation, the former MD chose to tow the image-damaging path.

“Rather than pursue his claims in court like he wrote, he has resorted to several acts of blackmail, arm twisting and extortion by writing various petitions with baseless allegations to several agencies and arms of government.  These allegations have material implications for national security. We state categorically that we have nothing to hide, but we are not in the habit of paying for work not done or value not-derived.”

She, however, noted that NAHCO will not succumb to extortion by Mr. Yusuf, but would duly seek redemption of its image through the court of law.

She added, “ We would like to state that NAHCO’s silence on the matter is in no way an acceptance of guilt; rather, we are guided by the advice of our solicitors not to discuss the details of a matter which is already before a court of law; where  in due course Baba Yusuf must provide facts on the allegations leveled.”

The GMD also disclosed that Yusuf was acting on the whims of malice in attempt to instigate certain groups to takeover the company, having tried so hard in the past to lobby for the post of GMD but failed.

“We also have it on good authority that the fulcrum of the attacks by Mr. Baba Yusuf are all tied to an attempt for a hostile takeover of the operations of NAHCO and NFZ by a faceless group using him as their front. We state this categorically because these attempts are all at variance with his praise of the strength with which NAHCO is going to greater heights.”

She assured the company’s clients of seamless operations irrespective of the threats.