Bird says defunct Antigua Airways was just a money-making venture; Nigeria case adjourned to April 25

Sean Bird, the United Progressive Party (UPP) caretaker for St. John’s Rural East, says the Antigua Airways fiasco – which has resulted in a lawsuit by some of the principals – was just a money-making venture from which  several people were cut.

Two Nigerian businessmen are suing the company, claiming they were cut out of the airline deal after having been instrumental in establishing its launch.

The lawsuit included Marvelous Mike Press Ltd. and its principal,  Michael Akinola, and Emmanuel Sampson, president of the Nigeria-Antigua Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber.

The matter came up in the Abuja, Nigeria,  High Court on Monday, March 27; however, it is reported that the case has been adjourned until April 25.

Bird says this is to give the respondents time to file their defence.

The UPP caretaker, like others, is expressing concern about the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) which seems to be tied up in this saga.

Ten (10) CIP passport files were part of the Browne Administration’s investment in the project, and Bird wants to know when the travel documents will be turned back in, since Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced that the airline is defunct.

He is speculating that, given the Government’s 20 percent stake in the airline, Antigua and Barbuda may be brought into the lawsuit at some point in time.

According to Bird, Sampson appears to be the culprit in this situation, having been given the authority to source investors for Antigua and Barbuda

What he finds interesting, Bird says, is that Sampson was expected to look at a port in Nigeria that should have been duplicated here. But since our port is already being redeveloped by the Chinese, he is wondering if another port was expected to be constructed.

It has been alleged that Sampson was receiving funds from various Nigerian investors who, in turn, had to join the Nigeria Antigua Chamber of Commerce  in order to become a part of its investment portfolio.

It is further alleged that the potential investors had to pay a sum of $20 million Naira, which is equivalent to US$45,000 to be a part of the investment – an arrangement that Bird says he finds strange.

Meanwhile, the Rural East caretaker says the claim that Antigua and Barbuda has a higher stake – 40 percent – in the now-defunct airline needs to be investigated.

Reportedly the businessmen are asking the court for their initial partnership agreement of US$1 million in finder’s fees; 6 percent of the projected audited annual revenue of the airline; and three of the 10 CIP passports .

The complainants allegedly were told that the airline was not viable and the risk was too high.