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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor Admits Ownership Of Jet Caught With N1.5b

A private jet seized weekend by South African authorities with a stack of $10 million in cash meant for arms purchase, belongs to the head of the Nigerian Christian community, the aviation ministry confirmed Tuesday. 

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor's church also confirmed the ownership in a separate statement Tuesday. But the church said the pastor has a "residual interest" in Eagle Air, a company that manages the aircraft. 

"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. 

Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, supported the claim that:
Pastor Oritsejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, had however leased the jet to another party. The minister made the clarification to Premium Times.

The aircraft was leased to, and is operated by Green Coast Produce Limited since August 2, the statement added. In an earlier statement, Eagle Air Company admitted ownership of the jet held in South Africa for conveying $9.3 million cash for alleged arms deal. 

Two Nigerians and an Israeli were caught with the money allegedly meant for buying and supplying weapons to the Nigeria intelligence services. City Press, a South Africa-based newspaper had reported that the trio, who are already facing investigations, landed at Lanseria International Airport, Johannesburg on September 5, in the jet from Abuja with the money loaded in three suitcases. 

Spokesperson for South African Revenue Service, Adrian Luckay, confirmed that they've taken charge.

Back to the ownership of the Private Jet and its operation:

The management of Green Coast Produce Company Limited confirmed the aircraft was 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. 

The company's director, Shima Adun said in the statement 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: (a) Depart Abuja-Johannesburg on the 5th of September 2014 (b) Return to Abuja on the 6th of September 2014 (c) To wait and return with the passengers". 

The company said as with every other aircraft charter company, its knowledge of the cargo carried on the aircraft was in accordance with the information provided by ABC Limited. "All cargoes 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," the firm said.

"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," it added.

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