Billions of naira contineu to grow wings: LINK: http://odili.net/news/source/2008/jul/9/603.html Another N20bn aviation fund missing - EFCC begins manhunt of aviation officials Shola Adekola, Lagos Wednesday, July 9, 2008 THE whereabouts of another $155 million (about N20 billion) in the aviation sector is now a subject of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Indeed, the commission may have concluded plans to question key officers both within and outside the aviation sector. The money, it was gathered, was the Bilateral Air Service Agreement Fund (BASA) belonging to the defunct Nigeria Airways. Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday gathered that the decision of the EFCC to quiz the officers across the aviation agencies and other selected government agencies might not be unconnected with the revelations at the just-concluded public hearing on the whereabouts of the BASA fund. The BASA money was the revenue generated by the Nigeria Airways through the commercial agreements it had with foreign carriers using Nigeria抯 airspace. The BASA money was the royalty the foreign airlines paid to the national carrier as charges for the extra rights they requested for and got outside the original bilateral agreement between their countries and Nigeria. It was gathered that at the public hearing, former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, could not explain in plain terms how the account could be accessed. The news filtered into the industry about three months ago that contrary to the belief in the sector that the money was intact in a special account under the management of the accountant general, it had actually been appropriated in the 2007 budget. At a meeting held between the Ministry of Aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and office of the Accountant General, it was disclosed that the money was no longer available, a situation which sparked up debate in the aviation sector. Though the account has now been transferred to the NCAA for management, it was gathered that the authority will have to open a fresh account, thus bringing to an end the $155 million BASA抯 account. Following the inability of the Senate Committee on Aviation to really ascertain the whereabouts of the fund, the EFCC has been asked to take over the investigation. Nigerian Tribune gathered that some key officers from the NCAA, ministries of aviation and finance and office of the accountant general may be quizzed over the money. It was the Nigeria Airways that was managing the account until it was transferred to the Ministry of Aviation as part of the plan by the then government to stifle the national carrier to pave the way for its liquidation. The domestic airlines had cried out in the past for government to give it access to the account as loans for its repositioning while the industry was left dying due to lack of funds.