It has been revealed that the former executive Governor of Imo state now Senator representing Imo west in the National Assembly, Owelle Rochas Okorocha used the DANA airlines to mesmerize and deceive Imolites scamming millions of naira.
When Okorocha governor in January 2017 accompanied by members of his cabinet, some business conscious Imolites and leaders at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport to flag off an Imo airline in partnership with DANA airlines, nobody knew that it was another smoke screen gimmick to defraud Imolites of their funds.
In the first instance there was an early indication that Imo Air may have been a scam and earlier reports suggested that Okorocha lied about the ownership and purchase of refurbished MC Donnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft.
Exposed document relating to the transactions between Imo state government and DANA airlines are full of lies aimed at defrauding Imo people.
Available record shows that the whole exercise was a scam as attempts by the media to unveil the secret deals and transactions of the Airline and the Okorocha administration was tactfully rebuffed by the airline represented by its Communication Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa while the Special Assistant to Okorcha on electronic media, Dr Ebere Nzeworji was reluctant to talk on the subject matter until he gets approval from certain un-named quarters.
However, it will be recalled that when prominent Imo citizens gathered on January 24, 2017 to herald one of the wonders of Governor Okorocha with joy and enthusiasm as soon as the 140 seater rebranded air craft, with Imo Air boldly written on its body devious songs and dances led by Okorocha’s orchestra rented the air as the aircraft taxied along the tarmac and the governor was saying ““This is a happy moment in the state. The aim of going into the Air business is because I want to drive traffic to Imo State as Imo is genuinely becoming the fastest developing state outside Abuja and Lagos. For this, there is need for more airlines to cushion the effects of high traffic coming to the state.
“Imo government does not have an operating air license. So we needed to partner with a good and qualified airline operator. Hence, the choice of Dana Air because of its proven track record and sincerity of purpose. Imo Air will be operated by Dana and we have a contract of ten years with them. We have five of this aircraft and the first one has just landed Four others will start operation in few weeks time.
“The International Cargo Airport will soon kick-start to supplement the efforts of Imo Air. In our pursuit of making Imo better, Imo International Cargo Airport will soon commence operations. Work is going on smoothly and by April, God willing, the fastest international cargo plane will arrive Imo State. This, we believe will help drive up commercial activities in the state. Imo is a hub for business and there is no better place to invest now in Nigeria than Imo State, as in spite of the recession the state is still flourishing and progressing because of its visionary leadership.”
As usual he disclosed that already 200 people have been employed in the new company and many move to be employed and this was collaborated by Mbanzuo Obi who said “ The partnership between DANA and the good people of Imo state will create employment and better working relationship” that Imo Air is in safe hands and the choice of DANA is an excellent one.
It was later discovered that Okorocha’s knack for pursing grandiose projects without focus created doubts in the minds of some people hence effort made Nigerians to brave that Imo Air was registered indicated that the outfit was not registered or listed at the Corporate Affairs Commission as demanded under the companies and allied matters Act of 1990.
A reliable source familiar with Imo project confirmed that Imo air is a huge fraud the MC Donnel Douglas MD-83 aircraft with registration No 5NSR which Okorocha claimed to have purchased for Imo allegedly belonged to DANA Air. A 26 year old aircraft from all investigations and available records and statistics, the Imo air project by Rochas was a seam and huge loss to the Imo people, No document to show that the refurbished and rebranded “New Aircraft belongs to Imo state and there is no available operating license for the presumed Imo airline to operate and there were no Imo Indigenes working in the company as further inquiries proved as can be shown from the report of corresponding.
Early reports suggested that Okorocha had lied. The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft, with registration number 5N-SRI, which Okorocha claimed to have purchased, allegedly belonged to Dana Air. The airplane was reportedly 26 years old as at the time the governor was claiming Imo State ownership of it.
Further searches conducted by Ripples Nigeria online showed that without an Air Operators Certificate (AOC), the so called Imo Air had cleverly stayed off the cyber space, choosing instead to remain an anonymous actor without even a booking office or ticketing stand anywhere. Pretensions toward any form of transparency were further blighted by the confusions created over brand identity. The venture which began as ‘Imo Air Operated by Dana Air’ has switched to “Imo Operated by Dana Air”.
Attempts made by Ripples Nigeria in November, 2017 to verify if Imo Air was a registered business entity threw up bewildering findings. The feedback was a ‘no show’. As demanded under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, Imo Air had not been listed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)!
Competent sources familiar with the Imo Air project allege that Imo Air is a huge fraud perpetrated against the people of Imo State by Okorocha in collaboration with Dana Air. Our source claimed that he currently had in his possession, a document of approval from CAC to run an airline with the name, Imo Air limited.
“I applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) through my lawyer to ascertain the availability of the name, Imo Air Limited. I did this so that I can have a company registered in that name. And in their reply I got this document of approval.
“This means that Imo Air Limited is available. In other words, it does not exist anywhere, nobody is operating business with that name. I have always known that whatever Rochas has said about Imo Air Limited is a fraud and that he set out to defraud Imo people with it. I say so because for there to be Imo Air, he must apply through the Imo State House of Assembly to the effect that Imo State government wants to run an airline. This is because to run an airline requires a lot of money.
“How much does it cost to buy an aircraft? Okorocha claims that his government has only been able to buy a few aircraft and that they are being managed for Imo State Government by Dana Air. So, the questions remain as follows: What did it cost to buy these aircraft? From whom did he buy these aircraft? What are the registration numbers of these aircraft? Did Imo State House of Assembly approve in the state budget that Imo State Government should own an airline and approve money for the state to buy aircraft when we have multiples of needs?
“So from day one I knew that Okorocha had set out, like he always does, to defraud Imo State and I had to go and apply for a company in the name of Imo Air. The first one I applied for was approved a couple of months ago, this document you see is the renewal of the earlier approved one.
“One other thing is that Okorocha by early this year advertised dubiously that Imo sons and daughters who want to work as air hosts and hostesses in Imo Air should apply. Why would a governor take his fraud this far, knowing that even when, as they claimed that Dana Air is operating so called Imo Air on behalf of Imo State Government, there is no way the state could have employed air hostesses because Dana will use its pilots and air hostesses to run the airline. That is supposing the airline existed, but it does not.”
Our source claimed that he personally counseled Okorocha on the perceived fraud inherent in the Imo Air project. “I told them that this is a fraud and this thing will be thrown open at the appropriate time…”
“The Imo Air project is the single biggest fraud. Rochas should show us which airline he has bought with our money. He should show us when he had the license and approval to run an airline and he should show us when the Imo State House of Assembly ever passed and he signed into law approving that he should expend some amount of money to buy an aircraft and to run an airline.
“He has to explain to us at what point he handed this airline to Dana Air. This is because he said that we have an airline called Imo Air limited and it doesn’t exist,” our source alleged.
“I have flown Dana recently. I have flown it once or twice in the past. At the beginning when this fraud started they used to write on the aircraft Imo Air operated by Dana Air. Now they have cleaned the area where they wrote Air and are now writing Imo Operated by Dana Air.
“I’m considering completing the process of the registration so that I can have the license to Imo Air because the truth is that we expect the airport authority to come clean on this issue. We expect the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to come clean on this issue, we expect Dana Air to come clean on this issue that there is nothing like Imo Airline.”
In search of facts; Sealed lips everywhere!
Probe into the processes leading up to the execution of the Imo Air project took Ripples Nigeria to Owerri where our Reporter kept vigil for five days investigating the State House of Assembly interventions, and seeking other official responses to troubling developments.
At Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, there is absolutely no sign of partnership between the Imo State government and Dana Air. An official of the collaborating airline simply mumbled, “Dana Air and Imo Air are the same thing,” when asked by our Reporter to guide him to Imo Air ticketing stand.
There was also no such thing as rebate of 10% on tickets for would-be indigenes hoping to leverage Okorocha’s promises as pledged at inception of the airline. This Reporter was denied any such concession when he made to bid for a ticket on a Lagos-bound flight.