N225m cars scam: Jonathan queries Oduah

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Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah

ABUJA— President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, queried the Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah over the N225 million armoured cars scandal involving her and some agencies of her ministry.

Jonathan’s query, signed by one of his aides asked the minister to explain her role in the purchase of the vehicles which had generated nationwide controversy.

It was further learnt that the President also asked the minister to explain the circumstances under which the purchase of the cars were made.

President Jonathan will begin a visit to Israel today where he is expected to sign a bilateral air services greement with the country.

Still on the matter, the House of Representatives yesterday summoned Mrs Oduah to appear before it tomorrow in an investigative hearing over her role in the alleged purchase of two bullet proof BMW cars valued at N225 million.

This is pursuant to yesterday’s  resolution of the House to begin investigation into the purchase.

A statement from the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha indicated that the investigative public hearing is billed to hold Thursday (tomorrow) at 10:00am.

Others expected  to appear before the committee are the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Managing Director, Coscharis Motors; Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement; Managing Director, First Bank PLC; Federal Ministry of Finance and members of the general public.

Meanwhile, another agency in the aviation ministry, the National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), was also said to have purchased four Toyota Tundra vehicles for Mrs. Stella Oduah. NAMA however denied the report, saying it is false.

According to an online media which published the photographs of the limousines, the Tundras are in addition to four stretch limousines allegedly purchased for the movement of VIPs. The vehicles were said to be parked at the headquarters of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) grounds in Abuja, yesterday.

The purchase and donation of the Tundras to the minister was allegedly made earlier, in June, while the four limousines were received in the third week of June but have not been put to use.


NAMA denies buying

limousines for Oduah

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency {NAMA} has, however, denied the online media reports that the agency purchased eight limousines for the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.

A statement issued yesterday by Mr. Supo Atobatele, General Manager, Public Affairs Department of NAMA said:  “The attention of  NAMA has been drawn to frivolous, malicious and mischievous reports being bandied by an online news outfit to the effect that the agency bought four limousines along with other brands for the Ministry of Aviation or its leadership.”

According to Atobatele: “We hereby make it categorically clear to the public that this evil story, as being  promoted is patently false in its entirety and is calculated to put the agency and the office of the honourable minister into disrepute.”

He continued: “For the avoidance of doubt, the said limousines belong to a concesssionaire who is running a VIP shuttle service for non-scheduled operators. The said vehicles were never on the inventory of NAMA and we would like to declare with all emphasis that we do not run ground services as we are statutorily an air navigation service provider.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation which was mandated to investigate the car scandal was specifically instructed to submit the report of its findings within 168 hours — one week, to the House for further deliberation.

The action of the House followed a motion brought to the floor of the House by Rep Samson Osagie, APC,  under matters of National Importance and seconded by Rep Sehu Gusau, APC representing ZamfaraState.

Osagie had argued in the motion that investigations into the purchase of $1.6million bullet-proof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) for the Minister of Aviation, pursuant to Section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 ( as amended) has become mandatory.

The Edo legislator further explained that “given the poverty and unemployment ravaging our dear nation and its people, it will be absurd, unthinkable and indeed unpatriotic for an agency of government to connive with its political head to incur such an expenditure simply for the comfort and safety of one public officer.”

Osagie said  that “over the past four weeks, the nation has been inundated with the news of the purchase of $1.6m BMW bullet-proof cars by the NCAA for the Hon. Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.”

He observed that “the furore generated by the said matter has left tongues wagging on the sincerity and objectivity of this administration’s stand on fight against corruption which was again re-emphasized by Mr. President’s nationwide broadcast on October 1, 2013″.

Continuing, the Minority Whip of the House said that “the RMAFC has elaborate recommendations as to the way public officers including Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are to be catered for in terms of salaries and emoluments, housing and motor vehicles, which recommendations have been passed into law by the National Assembly.”

Issues before House committee

He appealed to members to mandate the House committee on Aviation to investigate the matter and report back to the House within one week with specific reference to the following:

*Whether it is correct that the purchase was made;

*Whether the purchase was authorized by any appropriation law;

*Whether NCAA has been complying with FRA on IGR;

*Whether the Minister is entitled to such vehicle under any law in Nigeria;

*Whether (if the answer to 2 above is in the negative) the EFCC and all anti-corruption agencies are not bound to investigate and prosecute all those involved; and

*Whether ( if 2 above is correct) the President and Commander-in-Chief can continue to retain the services of the Hon. Minister and all those involved in the matter.

At this juncture, the presiding officer, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal cautioned members saying:

“We need to be mindful of the fact that we are investigating a serious matter; we should reserve our comments so that we are not seen to be judgmental in our arguments.”

In his contribution, Rep Kigbu Haruna, representing NasarawaState said: “This is an issue we should talk about until we get it right. The  MDAs  are involved in  lots of extra-budgetary spending and who among them is greater than any Senator or an elected member of this House?

“Soon and very soon, Senators and Reps would be asking for bullet-proof cars when we can’t feed the poor or give quality education to the people of Nigeria.”

Rep Hassan Saleh, representing BenueState asked: “Is this the right way to go!

“Is this the priority of the Ministry of Aviation? Recently, aircraft inspectors were not being paid allowances and what we hear is that bullet-proof cars were bought.”

Rep Emmanuel Jimeh, PDP,  Benue, in his contribution said: “This calls for serious introspection in this House on the way public officers are conducting their businesses. I have listened and I am not in any doubt that the amount of money was used for the purchase of the vehicles, the main question therefore is what is the nexus between the purchase of the vehicles for the minister and air safety in this country.

“Recently, an air accident occurred. That is why we must be angry that the people in charge of air safety in the country are busy protecting themselves on the ground. We should stop profligacy in the way that the fund of this country is being managed. This NASS will not sit back and watch the resources of this country being frittered away by a few Nigerians.”

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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