The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday spoke on the controversial N255 million bulletproof BMW cars, saying the embattled aviation minister, Stella Oduah, is on her own.
This is the first time the PDP is reacting to the scandal that has elicited public outcry. President Goodluck Jonathan had, last week, constituted a three-man probe panel to investigate the transaction.
The PDP had, in the wake of the Associated Airline crash, extolled Oduah as one of its high-performing ministers.
The PDP-dominated House of Representatives has also instituted an investigation into the matter.
Describing the scandal as a source of worry, PDP maintained that the minister, like others in the party, must face the law. Its zero tolerance for corruption, the party said, will not be compromised.
While expressing its desire not to cover up any act of corruption in the scandal, the party said Oduah and others involved should brace up to face the full course of the law like some members of the top leadership of the party or their relatives who faced corruption charges.
National publicity secretary of the PDP Chief Olisa Metuh said the position of the party on corruption is unambiguous. "The position of our great party on corruption is unambiguous and our zero tolerance for corrupt practices abounds in practical examples, because our founding fathers placed utmost premium on transparent and accountable government as a fulcrum for achieving a Nigeria of our dream.
"Our successive leaders since 1999 have resolutely stuck to this. It is common knowledge that, at one time or the other, some members of the top leadership of our party or their relatives faced charges of corruption and never was the law restrained from taking its full course.
"To us as a party, the accusations of corruption in the aviation ministry are a big worry. It is for this reason that the president and the leader of our party has set up a panel to investigate the matter while the National Assembly which we also lead has stepped in.
"We commend the president and the National Assembly for doing what is appropriate in the circumstance.
"It is a fundamental rule of due process and fairness that these investigations be allowed a full course so that those at the centre of the saga would be availed an opportunity to offer their own side and avoid a case of conviction before trial. We however wish to assure Nigerians that whoever is found culpable shall reap in full, the bitter consequences of corruption and disservice to our dear nation."
The party however noted that if the probe proves their innocence, "the aviation officials should not be intimidated but remain focused in the outstanding transformation that Nigerians have witnessed in the sector".
The PDP further decried the ethnic dimension the scandal was assuming, and cautioned against what it described as tribal lords and lynch mobs hindering the attainment of an objectivity in establishing the culpability of the public officers involved in the matter.
The party said "these public trials in which the accused stands no chance of defence is antithetical to democracy as it is capable of railroading appropriate investigation into an unjust conclusion.
We therefore wish the various ethnic lords, jingoists as well as lynch mobs who have found occupation in sensational, subjective and anti-national comments and protests to take their exit and allow the appropriate institutions of authority to dispassionately handle the matter."
Nonetheless, the ruling party lambasted the opposition APC for being hypocritical on corruption.
"The APC is a stinking sepulchre. The party is the headquarters of corruption in Nigeria. This is a party whose leaders relish in stinking miasma but artfully turning blind eyes to it. "They however go megaphonic when other political parties are involved. Hardly can you point at any of its leaders without a heavy baggage. In fact, the governors and leaders of the of the APC have been involved in bulletproof car deals more scandalous than that at the aviation ministry, but this is conspicuously missing on the sermon list of these false evangelists of good governance."
The party added: "The speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly is still standing trial for acts of corruption, yet it is not discussed. In Ekiti , Ogun, Oyo, Edo and Osun , bridges and road contacts are outrageously inflated and the masses daily pauperised with the APC conniving in silence," Metuh said in the statement.