President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has claimed ownership of the jet impounded in South Africa for bearing $9.3 million meant for arms purchase.
Oritsejafor’s church also confirmed that the pastor owned the jet. “On behalf of Pastor Oritsejafor, we can confirm that although he holds an interest in Eagle Air, the aircraft in question is not operated by Pastor Oritsejafor,” the statement by The Word of Life Bible Church said. The aircraft was leased to, and is operated by Green Coast Produce Limited since August 2, the statement added.
The cleric holds an interest in Eagle Air, the company that manages the aircraft. Eagle Air had however said it had leased the aircraft to another company, Green Coast Produce Limited.
“Our attention has been drawn to press reports in respect of an aircraft (Bombardier Challenger 600, Registration No N808HG) in which our company holds a residual interest.
“We wish to confirm that the said aircraft has since the 2nd of August 2014 been leased to and is operated by Green Coast Produce Limited. The company and Mr. Ortisejafor’s church advised that all media enquiries in respect of the day-to-day operations of the aircraft be directed to the management of Green Coast Produce Limited.
In yet another statement, the management of Green Coast Produce Company Limited confirmed the aircraft had been leased to it, saying such transactions were normal in the aviation industry. The company explained that the aircraft was in turn hired from it by one John Ishyaku and therefore would not be liable for any alleged infractions either in Nigeria or South Africa after the hire.
Two Nigerians and an Israeli were caught with the money allegedly meant for buying and supplying weapons to the Nigeria intelligence services. The authorities therefore impounded the aircraft, while investigation on the matter commenced.
According to South African media, the three suspects arrived Johannesburg on September 5, in the said jet, from Abuja with the money loaded in three suitcases.