The stalled Nigeria Air (NWB, Lagos) project will face scrutiny in a Nigerian federal court in June when former aviation minister Hadi Sirika and family members will be grilled over alleged corrupt contracts associated with the project.

Following investigations by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sirika, along with his daughter Fatima Hadi Sirika and her husband Jajal Sule Hamma, and their company Al Buraq Global Investment, were arraigned in the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, on May 9 on six counts of corruption involving around NGN2.7 billion naira (USD1.9 million). They were released on bail of NGN100 million (USD70,000) each after they pleaded not guilty to all charges. Their trial is set for June 10, according to numerous Nigerian news reports.

Sirika, who was detained on April 23, stands accused of using his position to award contracts to family members and associates.

Among other charges, the EFCC alleges that between April 2022 and March 2023, he used his influence as aviation minister to award the Nigeria Air transaction advisory contract, worth NGN1.3 billion (USD912,000), to consultancy Tianaero Nigeria Limited led by Tilmann Gabriel, giving it "unfair advantage" and thereby committing an offence under Nigeria's Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, according to the charge sheet published by Naira Metrics.

Gabriel has a background as an executive at Lufthansa, Royal Jet, Safi Airways, Qatar Airways, and CHC (Ireland), and Tianaero had been the project leader and transaction advisor for Nigeria Air from 2016. The tender process for Nigeria Air was led by Nigeria's Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). Gabriel declined to comment when approached by ch-aviation.

Other charges against Sirika and the co-accused relate to EFCC allegations that he misused his position to bestow a NGN1.4 billion (USD982,000) contract to Al Buraq Global Investment, the company run by his daughter and son-in-law, for an apron extension at Katsina.

The EFCC started investigating Sirika in February 2024 on allegations of conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, and contract inflation during his time in office between August 22, 2019 and May 29, 2023.

The corruption watchdog initially arrested Sirika's brother, Abubakar Sirika, who has been assisting the commission in its probe, according to news reports. Investigations first focused on contracts awarded to Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by Abubakar, who is also deputy director at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.