Quorum Aviation, the company that owns the helicopter that crashed into a building at Opebi, Lagos, is owned by Abiola Lawal, the younger brother of Kase Lawal, the Nigerian-born American oilman who founded the Camac Group.
An investigation by Lagos Times newspaper shows that Quorum Aviation was registered in 2011 and was granted an Airline Operating Licence by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in December 2018. The Lagos Times could not ascertain if Mr Kase Lawal had any personal interest in the company.
The younger Lawal served as a vice-president in the now-bankrupt Erin Energy (formerly CAMAC Energy) and quit the oil exploration group after spiralling debts, legal disagreements and problems with Nigerian authorities forced the company into bankruptcy two years ago.
It appears that while working at Erin Energy (then known as CAMAC), Mr Lawal had branched into the aviation industry by starting several companies operating in that sector. In addition to a travel agency Ashton and Dave Travels, Mr Lawal also started an online ticketing service Flyboku.com and later incorporated Quorum Aviation with a relative Sheriff Lawal.
A person who knows Mr Lawal socially but asked to speak on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that Mr Lawal had always had a passion for the travel and tourism business.
Mr Lawal had been planning a big expansion drive before the coronavirus pandemic stalled his growth plans. In January, the company reportedly signed a deal with United Kingdom based 328 Dornier for a $2 billion investment as part of a strategic collaboration agreement to support the growth of new regional connectivity in Nigeria and West African region.
In 2019, Quorum announced plans to launch an Abuja-Kaduna air shuttle service project as part of an agreement with Kaduna state. The company also planned to sell and provide maintenance for Dornier 328 aircraft in Nigeria and West Africa.
Mr Lawal’s sojourn in the aviation industry has been tainted with a smidgen of controversy. In early August, one of Mr Lawal’s companies, the online travel agency FlyBoku, was named in local news reports as contravening extant laws by conniving with government officials to arrange commercial flights at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.