As criticisms trails the acquisition of $1.6 million BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the agency's director general, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, has said the vehicles are in the organisation's pool which are used to convey important dignitaries.
At a press conference in Abuja and in a statement made available to journalists by Joe Obi, media assistant to aviation minister, NCAA said the vehicle are also used to carry Princess Stella Oduah and other foreign visitors of the agency.
Akinkuotu said: "The cars are operational vehicles used in the varied operations of the NCAA. Transporting the minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries is part of this operation. First and foremost, we make haste to state that aviation is a global industry and the NCAA, the regulator of the industry in Nigeria very often plays host to dignitaries from international civil aviation bodies like ICAO, IATA, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), African Airlines Association (AFRAA), African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the Bangjul Accord Group (BAG), Civil Air Navigation Service Organisations (CANSO), Airport Council International (ACI), amongst several others.
"It is internationally customary to convey our minister and these visiting foreign dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria. It must be noted that during such visitations, the security of members of the delegations is the sole responsibility of the host country. The vehicles are therefore in the pool of the NCAA for these special assignments and are available at NCAA office and can be shown to you," he said.
During the question and answer session, Akinkuotu said that he was not aware of how the two armoured BMW cars for the minister were bought.
He said that the process for the purchase of the vehicles was made before he became the DGof NCAA, but agreed that the transaction followed due process.
According to documents on the online news site saharareporters.com the invoices on the purchase and delivery of the cars were made in June and August 2013. Akinkuotu became the DG of NCAA on Thursday, March 14, 2013 after Harold Demuren was sacked the previous day.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that Demuren was not disposed to the purchase of the vehicles when the idea was mooted and this did not go well with some of his superiors. The NCAA DG said that it was not the first time the agency bought such vehicles for its operational uses, but failed to say how many they were and their cost.
He said that since Coscharis Motors had the sole right to import and sell such BMW vehicles in Nigeria, he had no power to tell the company how much to sell its products. NCAA spent N255, 150, 000 (1,593,687.31) to buy them.
Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, threatened to head for the court if the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) failed to investigate the transaction.
Falana in a petition to the EFCC urged the commission to investigate the alleged crime by the minister and her cohorts in NCAA.