The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) has debunked allegations of gun running and money laundering levelled against it by a former Managing Director of Nahco Free Zone(NFZ), Baba Yusuf.
The allegations were aired on two Nigerian television stations on Wednesday October 14, 2020 and Friday October 16, 2020 respectively, where he implied that the company is involved in gunrunning and money laundering deals for unsuspecting criminals.
But at a press briefing held at NAHCO headquarters in Lagos, the Group Managing Director, Mrs. Adetokunbo Fagbemi, said Yusuf’s allegations are a deliberate attempt to drag the company’s image to the mud.
She said Yusuf had earlier issued a threat earlier through his lawyer, to damage the company’s reputation following his attempt to force the NFZ, a subsidiary of NAHCO where he worked briefly as the Managing Director, to pay him a severance package of N125,900,000, as performance bonus for seven months.
One of the letters issued through his lawyer, Tony Odiadi, on June 13, 2020, states: “Be informed therefore, that if after 10 days from the date of this letter, our client is not paid his entitlements as stated, we shall have no option left but to file necessary invitations to relevant investigative agencies…. The likely damage to your reputation and operational activities of these legal steps will not be one to be lightly allowed. The said legal steps may be taken without further recourse to you.”
Fagbemi however disclosed that Yusuf, who resigned voluntarily, did not “raise any of such allegations as issues of concern” during his time at the helms, adding that even upon his resignation, he granted interviews praising the NFZ, NAHCO and the new boards of the two organisations.
The GMD expressed her dismay that rather than approaching the court for perceived justice over his claims, which were put forward based on his self-evaluation, the former MD chose to tow the image-damaging path.
“Rather than pursue his claims in court like he wrote, he has resorted to several acts of blackmail, arm twisting and extortion by writing various petitions with baseless allegations to several agencies and arms of government. These allegations have material implications for national security. We state categorically that we have nothing to hide, but we are not in the habit of paying for work not done or value not-derived,” Fagbemi said.
She however said that NAHCO will not succumb to extortion by Mr. Yusuf, but would duly seek redemption of its image through the court of law.
She added, “We would like to state that NAHCO’s silence on the matter is in no way an acceptance of guilt; rather, we are guided by the advice of our solicitors not to discuss the details of a matter which is already before a court of law; where in due course Baba Yusuf must provide facts on the allegations leveled.”
The GMD also disclosed that Yusuf was acting on the whims of malice in attempt to instigate certain groups to takeover the company, having tried so hard in the past to lobby for the post of GMD but failed.
“We also have it on good authority that the fulcrum of the attacks by Mr. Baba Yusuf are all tied to an attempt for a hostile takeover of the operations of NAHCO and NFZ by a faceless group using him as their front. We state this categorically because these attempts are all at variance with his praise of the strength with which NAHCO is going to greater heights.”
She assured the company’s clients of seamless operations irrespective of the threats.