Issues surrounding the removal of CRJ1000 aircraft from the Arik Air fleet have continued to generate controversy between the airline receivership management and the founder, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide.
This is as an aviation cargo firm, Merchant Express Cargo, expressed displeasure over the manner in which some media reports allegedly sponsored by the Arik Air founder and his lawyers, “mischievously painted one” of the agents of the Canadian owners of the aircraft, Alberta Aviation Capital Corporation, Canada (AAC) as a fraud for legally carrying out the instructions of his clients.
In a statement, the cargo firm said an Aviation Expert, Capt Caulcrick, was jointly appointed with Merchant Express Cargo Limited by AAC to tear down the CRJ1000 with MSN 19037, which legally belongs to them, the new owners, after the cancellation of the lease Agreement with Arik Air, the previous operator, due to many substantial and continued defaults in making outstanding payments to JEM (the Leasor/Owner).
READ ALSO: Why Arik Air Removed CRJ 1000 From Fleet
The removal of the CRJ1000 aircraft from Arik Air’s fleet sparked controversy as Arumemi-Ikhide, through his lawyers petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleging that the airline receiver manager, Omokide, Kamilu Alaba, was involved in misappropriation of fund, and illegal sale of assets, among other allegations. The petition prompted EFCC to arrest and detain Omokide for an investigation into the matter.
However, the Arik Air Receivership Management issued a statement explaining that there was no fraud, adding that the aircraft in question was never owned by the airline but leased to it by JEM Leasing Limited. It further revealed that the owners of the CRJ 1000, registered as 5N-JEE, in collaboration with its financiers, Export Development Canada (EDC) decided to sell the airplane and the buyer equally intends to dismantle it.
According to Merchant Express Cargo, “The defaults in Arik Air’s obligations led to the de-registration of the aircraft by the NCAA from the NCAA’s registry, July 22, 2022 – consent by the lien holder – the Export Development Canada (EDC), and ownership reverted to EDC the mortgagee. The aircraft currently has a Canadian registry allocation.”
It added that “Capt Caulcrick was an authorized Agent of the new Canadian owners (AAC) of the aircraft and the process for the recovery of the aircraft followed all due process, all of which are properly documented.
“Until contracted on the teardown project, neither Merchant Express nor Capt Caulcrick had anything to do with the cancelled lease or the de-registration of the aircraft by the NCAA.
“We condemn in its entirety the efforts by the founder of Arik Air, Sir Arumem-Johnson, whose airline is under receivership, and his lawyers, to use the EFCC and some sections of the press to intimidate the authorized Agents of the legal owners of aircraft (AAC) in an effort to stop the owners from taking their aircraft in whatever form they choose back to Canada.
“Capt Caulcrick is an outstanding Aviator that has worked all his life to protect the integrity and preserve the sanctity of the Aviation Industry in Nigeria and everywhere else – a dedicated aviator.
“The effort to malign his person can only be the handwork of those that know they do not have any legal rights over the aircraft; otherwise, they would have approached the courts for an injunction to stop the teardown.”
It said further said that using the EFCC and the media are not the tactics of those with legal rights, and warned that “It only will harm the aviation industry, which could increase leases and insurance costs for future aircraft leasing for Nigerian operators in the future.”
It also stated that the action is contrary to the Cape Town treaty signed by the Nigerian government to protect the assets of foreign investors.
The cargo firm also revealed that the Canadian government is escalating the matter at the diplomatic level to preserve their interest.