Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, reacted to the report of the House of Representatives on the N255 million ($1.6 milllion) bulletproof BMW cars, claiming that it was obvious that the lawmakers had a hidden agendum in their investigation.
Oduah’s reaction followed the adoption of the recommendations of the report of the committee on aviation on the purchase of the two cars by the lawmakers during the Committee of the Whole, which was chaired by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, deputy speaker, earlier on Thursday.
The lawmakers had concluded in the report that due process was not followed in the procurement of the two bulletproof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
They also urged President Goodluck Jonathan to review the continued engagement of Oduah for having contravened the Appropriation Act, 2013 and the approved Revised Thresholds by exceeding the Ministry of Aviation’s approval limit of N100 million by the purchase of 54 vehicles valued at N643 million.
They also directed that Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of economy, to recover all monies that have been paid on the entire transactions and pay back into the federation account.
The recommendations of the report include: “that Nkemakolam Joyce and S. Ozigi, former acting director general and director of finance, respectively, of the NCAA should be sanctioned in accordance with the civil service rules for deliberately breaching the Appropriation Act, 2013 and other Extant Laws of the federation.
“That Coscharis Nigeria Limited should be investigated on the issue of waiver, source and exact cost of the two BMW vehicles in supplied to NCAA.
“That Coscharis should be made to pay the value of the waiver into the treasury account.
“That the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant anti-corruption agencies should further investigate the discrepancies in the chassis number (DW68032) of the vehicles on the one reported to have been delivered and the one inspected by the committee, and further investigate, and if found wanting, prosecute all persons/institutions involved in the transaction.”
Noting that due process was neither followed in the procurement of the two BMW armoured vehicles nor was their procurement provided for in the Appropriation Act, 2013, the committee also recommended that the Federal Ministry of Aviation and NCAA should terminate, with immediate effect, all transactions and loan agreement entered into with First Bank of Nigeria Plc and all contracts awarded therein.
But Oduah, who reacted through a statement issued by Joe Obi, special adviser on media to the minister, said that the conclusion of the House was an indication that it had a hidden agenda in the entire exercise from the beginning.
“We recall vividly the underhand tactics of the House when, 24 long hours before the report of the investigation was due to be laid before the plenary, ‘certified true copies’ were handed over to online and traditional media.
“The motive of those, who handed the document to unauthorised persons, has fully manifested in the adoption of the recommendations that have no reflection to the public hearing conducted in the full glare of Nigerians and the media.
“We stand by our earlier submissions to the committee that due process was followed in the procurement of the vehicles by the NCAA. The minister told the public hearing, and her evidence was corroborated by the NCAA that the cars were neither purchased for her nor in her name.
“Evidence also shows that the cars in question were included as a line item under the ‘safety and security vehicles’ subhead in the Appropriation Act.
“The position of the committee that this was not included (in) the budget is spurious as clear evidence exists in the Appropriation Act as stated above.
“The action of the committee and the House were pre-meditated with the sole aim of casting aspersion on the person and the office of the aviation minister.
“We reiterate that the recommendations of the committee do not reflect the actual course of proceedings at the hearing,” it read.