An investigation by SaharaReporters has revealed that a Nigerian private jet caught in Johannesburg with $9.3 million belongs toPastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Oritsejafor is also a close confidant of
President Goodluck Jonathan.
The CAN leader’s private plane with US registration number N808HG was one of two jets cited by South African officials on September 5.
According to the online news portal, Oritsejafor’s jet arrived South Africa with $9.3 million cash loaded in several suitcases. News of the seizure of the cash broke over the weekend, triggering questions about the ownership of the jets and weapons they intended to purchase.
The news portal also reported that Nigerian aviation authorities disclosed that one of the jets belonged to Pastor Oritsejafor while the second one was registered to Felix Idiga, the owner of Jafac Aviation Limited.
Two Nigerians and an Israeli defence contractor, Eyal Mesiaka arrived in the jet when they were accosted in South Africa authorities. A South African source disclosed that Mr. Oritsejafor’s jet was released after top Nigerian officials intervened, claiming that the weapons to be purchased had the official blessing of the Nigerian government.
The jet arrived with two plastic suitcases and two hand luggage with combination locks only known to the Isreali contractor, according to CityPress
“Earlier today, SaharaReporters rang the mobile telephone number of Mr. Idiga. At first, he pretended and claimed that he was the Aide De camp to Mr. Idiga. But when our correspondent identified himself as a reporter from SaharaReporters, he started answering questions relating to the issues but claimed the jet we published on our site wasn’t his own.
“Asked if he knew of another private jet named in apparent arms buy in South Africa, he asked where we got our information after we read the jet registration number to him.
“He then denied that his jet was involved, before hastily hanging up the phone.”
When P.M.NEWS contacted sources at the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, over the ownership of the jet intercepted with cash, they said since it was not registered in Nigeria, they had no clue about who owns it.
Pastor Oritsejafor and his media aide, Bayo Adewoye, were not available for comments when a call was put across to them by P.M.NEWS.
However, the CAN president’s media consultant, Mike Awe, told P.M.NEWS that since the Federal Government has owned up to the incident, his principal has nothing to do with it.
According to Awe, “it is a normal practice that private jet owners hire them out whenever they are not using the jet and what happened in South Africa might just be that the government hired the jet.”
Meanwhile, a statement Tuesday by Dr Shima Adun on behalf of a company, Green Coast Produce Limited, said “a Bombardier Challenger 600 aircraft Registration No N808HG was leased to us, Green Coast Produce Company Limited, on the 2nd of August 2014. We have since that time been running and managing charter services with the aircraft in accordance and compliance with global best practices.”
Adun further stated that “On the 5th of September 2014 the aircraft was hired from us by a John Ishyaku. The charter to John Ishyaku was upon the following documented terms: Depart Abuja-Johanessburg on the 5th of September 2014; return to Abuja on the 6th of September 2014; and to wait and return with the passengers.”
Adun said the said terms are normative within the industry.
“As with every other aircraft charter company, our knowledge of the cargo carried on the aircraft was in accordance with the information provided by John Ishyaku. All cargo were accompanied by passenger who could readily defend the contents. We are not and cannot be privy to any alleged extraneous cargo transported on the aircraft other than that declared in the agreed terms of hire.
“We are not liable and cannot be construed as a party to any alleged infractions, either in Nigeria or South Africa as the case may be, after the hire of the aircraft.
“We issue this statement without prejudice to any statutory or commissioned investigation being conducted or to be conducted in South Africa or Nigeria.”
Reports say the $9.3 million was seized by South African authorities, while the plane was later released and has been flown to Ghana. It had not yet been flown to Nigeria at the time of this report.