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The Punch


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Business mogul, Arthur Eze, acquires presidential jet

Oyetunji Abioye

A prominent politician and oil mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, has bought one of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet through auction.



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Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Eze was one of the successful bidders for the three aircraft in the PAF in December 2010.

The Federal Government had through the Office of the National Security Adviser put up the three jets for sale through an invitation to tender, which was advertised in the Federal Government's Tenders in Nigeria Journal.

The jets are a Hawker 125-800, Falcon 900B and Gulfstream IV.

Our correspondent learnt that the conclusion of the sale might not be unconnected with the recent acquisition of three new aircraft for the PAF by the Federal Government.

Sources close to the Presidency told our correspondent that Eze acquired one of the three jets at the conclusion of the sales in February.

A source at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Eze had purchased one of the aircraft, which was identified as the 14-seater Gulfstream IV, which also has capacity for three crew executive members.

The jet, which carried the registration number, 5N-FGP, has already been converted to a civil aircraft with a new registration number by the new owner.

According to the NCAA source, the new registration number given to the aircraft by the regulatory agency is 5N-FZE.

Sources at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, confirmed seeing the jet with the new registration number.

Details of those who bought the other two jets have yet to be known.

When our correspondent put a call through to a United States' line, which was said to belong to the business mogul, a man who identified himself as Prince Arthur Eze confirmed the development.

Eze is the Chairman and Chief Exectutive Officer, Atlas Oranto Petroleum International Limited. According to information obtained from the Internet, Eze founded and incorporated the company in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

AOPI is a wholly Nigerian oil exploration and production company and an active operator of 14 oil blocks in the West African sub-region, including OML 109 and OPL 320 in Nigeria.

Three weeks ago, one of the three new presidential jets ordered by the Federal Government last year, arrived the country.

The jet, a Falcon 7X, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from France.

The aircraft, which was manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France, cost the government $51m (about N7.65bn.)

The Federal Executive Council had on August 12, 2010 approved $102m for the purchase of two Falcon 7x and $53.3m for one Gulfstream G550 aircraft to beef up the PAF.

It was gathered that the two remaining aircraft would arrive the country during the second quarter of the year.