N1.7bn fraud: FirstNation Airways denies charges against self, MD

*MD of First Nation Airways, Mr. Kayode Odukoya

FirstNation Airways has debunked all the charges of fraud and stealing preferred by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the airline and its managing director, Mr. Mr. Kayode Odukoya.

It would be recalled that on March 16, 2018, Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court ordered that Odukoya be remanded for alleged theft of N1.7 billion.

The judge gave the remand order when the accused was arraigned on a four-count charge of forgery, use of false document, perjury and stealing pressed against him by the EFCC.

Odukoya who was granted bail in the sum of N10 million on March 26, 2018 is joined as co-defendants in the suit by FirstNation Airways and the defunct Bellview Airlines operated by the first defendant.

But in a statement issued in Lagos today and signed by one Mr. Ademola Daniel, the airline said the charges are based on what it describes as “false and dubious” petition filed by Skyebank Plc.

“The charges are bogus and without basis and targeted to impugn our integrity and we will vigorously defend ourselves in court.

“As the matter is sub-judice we are unable to discuss any further details but we wish to clarify and correct, malicious misrepresentations made against us to the media. Although the charge was filed as far back as December 11th 2017, the EFCC did not inform either Mr. Odukoya or First Nation of its existence even though FirstNation and Mr. Odukoya in good faith continued to visit EFCC offices on December 16th 2017, February 6 and March 13, 2018.

“At the same time, the wrong impression was being created in Court, that Mr. Odukoya was avoiding arraignment. FirstNation only learnt of the charges through social media on March 9 2018.

“On becoming aware of the charges through the social media, Mr. Kayode Odukoya voluntarily visited the EFCC on March 13 2018 at 10 am and was subsequently detained despite the fact that he was already on administrative bail.

“Given the fact that the charge had already been filed, he should then have been immediately served with same to allow him effectively defend the action. Instead, Mr. Odukoya was only served with the charge on Thursday March 16th and   arraigned on Friday, March 17, 2018, well outside the 48 hours required by law.

“It is instructive that we clarify that FirstNation do NOT owe any other banking institution (local or abroad) and dispute in good faith any indebtedness to Skyebank Plc.

“We will vigorously defend our innocence with respect to the charges and are confident that we will obtain justice from the court,” said the airline.





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