The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has justified its takeover of Arik Air, saying that the company has negative capital that runs into billions of naira, while new claims on the precarious financial state continue to come to the fore on a daily basis.
In an affidavit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos by the Vice President and Team Lead, Transport and Aviation Unit of Arik Air, Mr. Gbolahan Odutayo, on behalf of AMCON and the receiver/manager, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya (SAN), the plaintiff averred that the magnitude of Arik’s financial problem was much worse than anticipated.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/175/17, Oduntayo alleged that when the second plaintiff – AMCON took over Arik on February 9, 2017, the insurance policy for Arik’s airplanes was to lapse on February 10, at which date, Arik was owing N418,893,067.97 as arrears of unpaid premium.
Oduntayo added that Arik had also failed to remit pension contributions of its employees, despite making the necessary pension deductions from the workers’ salaries and attached a demand letter from the National Pension Commission for the sum of N4, 586,860,471.50, being the outstanding pension remittance.
Arik Air, he said, was also indebted to Lufthansa Technik Group, the company responsible for the maintenance of its airplanes, to the tune of 31 million Euros; while Zenith Bank and Access Bank were being owed N28, 346,678,438.00 and N9, 447,673,924.00, respectively.
Amadeus Marketing Nigeria was also owed N632,490,151.40; while Mariot and Best Western Hotel was indebted to the tune of N3.8 million by Arik Air, according to the affidavit.
Oduntayo also accused the management of the airline of fraudulently obtaining N2billion from AMCON for retrofitting of two passenger airplanes to cargo airplanes without carrying out the said configuration, adding that there was no documentation to back up the N2billion.
He also accused Arik of misrepresentation and falsehood to trade and financial creditors and also inflating the cost of travel tickets of employees.
AMCON took over the management of the airline by appointing a receiver manager as a result of its indebtedness to the tune of N263.7 billion.
But the Chairman of the airline, mr. Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide had insisted that the total debt exposure the airline owed AMCON was N90 billion, admitting that the airline also owed Zenith Bank N35 billion, Access Bank N7 billion and Ecobank N12 billion, bringing the debts to N140 billion.
He had acknowledged that N90 billion was the debt the airline owed the government agency and wondered where it got the extra N56 billion it added to the earlier debt, which both parties agreed on and endorsed.
Other debts he mentioned included debt owed Lufthansa Technic, a maintenance company that provides technical support to the airline, which is about $9.8 million, and the one owed Eurocontrol, which the he said was less than one million Euros.
Arumemi-Ikhide insisted that the airline had been paying debts owed aviation agencies and noted that when there was a disagreement over the total amount owed FAAN, the agency took Arik to court, in a case that is still subsisting.
He had also said the crash of the naira in value made it extremely difficult to generate enough revenues in the local currency to offset overseas debts in dollars.