7 November 2013

Nigeria: Bulletproof Cars - Committee Wants Oduah Removed

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation will today present its report on the investigation into the alleged purchase of two controversial BMW bulletproof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA). The committee has recommended the removal of the minister of aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, for violating the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported on Monday that Oduah would be recommended for sanction by the committee on the grounds that she flouted due process and approved a contract of N643m which exceeds her threshold of N100m.

The recommendations of the report include indictment of Oduah for breaching the 2013 Appropriation Act, for breaching the Public Procurement Act and for negligence of duty.

LEADERSHIP further gathered from reliable sources that the report also prescribes for sanctions against all parties involved in the purchase of the vehicles, including management staff of the NCAA.

A lawmaker who spoke to LEADERSHIP on the recommendations last night but sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter said, "We have indicted her on everything. She has breached the Procurement Act as was uncovered during the public hearing and the Appropriation Act as well. Therefore, our report recommends that the president should commence the process of sacking her. However more details are contained in the report which will be submitted tomorrow".

But the committee did not find her culpable over allegations that the cars were bought in her name, as it could not find any evidence linking the cars to her as an individual.

According to the lawmaker, "The report does not find her guilty of asking NCAA to buy her the armoured cars. There was no evidence before the committee to show that the cars were bought in her name or for her."

Oduah had last Wednesday informed the legislators that she had done no wrong in approving the contract for the cars which, she said, did not belong to her, adding that NCAA, a parastatal under the Ministry of Aviation, did not breach the Appropriation Act by purchasing 59 operational vehicles at N643 million through a lease purchase agreement of the agency, First Bank and Coscharis Motors, even though the National Assembly approved N240million for 25 operational vehicles in the 2013 Act.

Oduah also explained that she gave conditional approval for the contract to be executed as she asked that the "needful" be done.

"The intent of the memo is approved but for the memo to be executed, it has to go through a process. So you cannot say on the assumption and in conclusion that the minister approved. Also, the role of the minister and the template of the accounts is finance leasing and it is very much in order," she said during her presentation at the hearing last week.

Senate panel excuses Oduah to attend FEC meeting

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Aviation yesterday put on hold its aviation sector probe as it excused Oduah to attend yesterday's scheduled Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Oduah was among others expected to answer queries from the Hope Uzodinma-led Senate panel on the spate of air crashes and mishaps recorded in the country.

The aviation minister is also to clear the air on the controversy surrounding the purchase of two BMW 760Li Series bulletproof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for her.

The controversial armoured cars cost N255 million.

Oduah, LEADERSHIP learnt, sought a last-minute permission to attend the FEC meeting. She requested another date.

The aviation minister is expected to appear today.

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