The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the operations of Jimoh Ibrahim’s Air Nigeria with immediate effect over alleged indications that the airline is in financial distress.
Although the spokesperson for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, could not be reached for comments, the airline says it has since complied with the order.
It has issued a statement on its website apologising for the inconveniences the disciplinary measure would bring on its passengers.
It assures its passengers that it would liaise with relevant agencies to ensure that the suspension order is lifted as soon as possible.
We had earlier today reported that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had filed charges of evading five years tax payment of N4.86 billion naira and forgery of Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) against Air Nigeria and its owner.
A copy of the charge filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja was exclusively obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mr Ibrahim, the company’s Chairman, Mr Kinfe Kahssaye, Managing Director and Air Nigeria Development Company Limited (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways Ltd), were joined in the 10-count charge.
The suit comes barely 48 hours after the service arrested Kahssaye in Lagos on Monday.
He was flown to Abuja same day and detained by the service and released on Tuesday afternoon.
In the charge, FIRS accused officials of the indigenous airline of illegally obtaining Tax Clearance Certificates.
They were also said to have unlawfully presented the fake certificate to the Minister of Interior for the renewal of expatriate quota positions for 20 pilots and 10 other persons.
According to the FIRS, the accused persons failed to deduct and pay taxes accruing to government from Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) from 2007 to 2010, totaling N4.86 billion.
The charge said Air Nigeria and the accused persons failed to deduct at source, N394.16 million being taxes accruing to government from withholding tax between January and December 2006.
Similarly, the company was said to have failed to deduct withholding tax of N775.20 million being 10 per cent of the payments for direct services as prescribed under the Companies Income Tax Act.
The offence, according to the court papers, is punishable under Section 40 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act No 13 of 2007.
The accused were also said to have failed to file annual returns of the company for 2011 with the FIRS, as prescribed by Section 55 (1) of the Companies Income Tax Cap C21 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010.
The charge said the failure to file annual returns “was with the connivance of Ibrahim and Kahssaye; and you hereby committed an offence punishable under Section 55(4) and (5) of the same Act.”
According to the FIRS, some officials of Air Nigeria, sometime in January “made counterfeit of tax certificate, purportedly issued by the FIRS in favour of Air Nigeria Development Company Ltd.