Medview Airline has said that there was a breach of its contractual agreement with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on the airlifting of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2019 Hajj exercise.

This is just as the Airline also mentioned that the commission has discontinued its contractual agreement with Max Air on airlifting Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia alleging that the Acting Chairman of the commission, Abdullahi Mukhtar wanted to compel the airline (Medview) to put some of its pilgrims on Flynas, a Saudi Arabia’s airline, which the NAHCON boss had an interest in.

According to reports, the carrier has petitioned the Presidency on the alleged breach stating that the NAHCON Boss has “wickedly, in contravention of the agreement and frustrated” Med-View Airline from continuing with the exercise.

Med-View insisted that the act of NAHCON through Mukhtar amounted to economic sabotage, claiming that he attempted to compel the airline to partner with a Saudi Arabian’s carrier, Flynas despite its partnership with another Nigerian airline, Max Air, which is also participating in the exercise.

The solicitor to Med-View, Barr. Debo Adeleke, the Principal Lead Counsel, Maritime, Commercial and Immigration Law Chambers explained that Med-View made down payment of $8,897,663.63 as the total contractual sum for the airlift of 5, 720 pilgrims on May 20, 2019 with First Bank as the guarantor.

Adeleke stated that according to the contractual agreement, NAHCON was to pay a sum of $4,448,831.08 representing 50 per cent payment to Med-View to enable the airline conclude all necessary arrangements for the commencement of the hajj operations but rather than 50 per cent the commission made available only $2,412,539 representing 25 per cent payment on July 15, 2019, five days into the exercise.

Before the airline was disallowed from continuing with the outbound exercise, it had already airlifted 4,383 pilgrims in five days of the exercise, with eight airlifts, according to NAHCON website.

A letter dated July 5, 2019, signed by Alhaji Muneer Bankole, the Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airline and addressed to the Chairman, NAHCON, demanded for payment of $900,000 to be made available to General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and TAIBA, $400,000 and $500, 000, respectively.

The letter with the head: ‘Demand note for Payment to GACA and TAIBA,’ reads in part: “As a result of exigency with regards to preparation for 2019 hajj airlift exercise, we wrote to request for payment of the sum of $900,000 to GACA and TAIBAH as analysed below: (i) GACA – $400,000 and (ii) TAIBAH – $500, 000.”

Besides, another letter with the reference number: MCILC/STFGN/NCBTAAB/01/19, dated August 5, 2019 and addressed to the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, accused NAHCON Chairman of malice against the carrier.

The document claimed that the entire 100 per cent was to be returned to the airline in four tranches; 50, 30, 10 and another 10 per cent, but as at August 5, the agreement was not redeemed by NAHCON.

The report added: “A sum of 35 per cent of the contract sum is payable on the positioning of aircraft by our client for the commencement of the hajj operation and completion of all agreements for the outbound flights, while 10 per cent of the contract sum is meant for the inbound.

“Sir, it is highly unfortunate and agonising that while our client had meticulously, sincerely and religiously kept to the terms and spirit of the agreement between parties, the acting chairman of NAHCON, failed, refused and neglected to honour the terms and spirit of the said agreement.

“To salvage the ugly situation, a resolute was reached amongst parties on the 24th July, 2019 whereby amongst other things, the commission was mandated to pay both 50 and 35 per cent contract sum to our client.”

The airline demanded for the payment of the remaining 35 per cent, which it said was already due and 10 per cent of the contract sum in readiness of the return of the pilgrims.

In another petition to the Acting Chairman, National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), dated August 16, 2019 and copied the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and First Bank, the solicitor to Med-view said that the letter written by NAHCON, stating that it had paid the sum of $5,576,582.50, representing 63 per cent of the total contract of $8,897,663.63 was incorrect.

Rather, the airline said that it received the total sum of $5,576,550.5, but insisted that it airlifted 6,443 at the total value of $10,007,550.00, insisting that the amount received did not amount to 63 per cent as claimed by NAHCON.

It said that Flynas, a foreign carrier was “selfishly imposed on our client against the indigenous airline in the name of Max Airline,” stressing that the idea of forcing a foreign airline on the carrier was an act of economic sabotage and “a clear negation of the extant Federal Government policies.”

As of the time of this report, NAHCON has not been able to respond to calls or make official responses to these Allegations.