The Senate Committee on Aviation has revealed that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, purchased 202 vehicles.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who had a meeting with the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi, said that the committee is investigating the purchases, which include 4 armoured cars.
He said the FAAN management confirmed to the committee that the vehicles were for operational use.
Meanwhile, as the House of Representatives continues to probe the controversial procurement of 2 armoured cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) the Nigerian Customs Service has stated that no duty was paid on the vehicles, as a duty waiver was obtained for the importation.
In his presentation to the House of Reps Committee on Aviation, Deputy Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Manasseh Jatau, said the 1 year waiver was from the Ministry of Finance for the 2012 Eko Games, which had Lagos State Government as beneficiary.
The President of Coscharis Motors, Cosmos Maduka, also led a team to the hearing. They spoke on the procedure followed on the purchase of the cars and other issues raised by the committee and explained that every requirement by law was duly followed.
The committee has however given the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, who was absent at the hearing, an ultimatum to appear before it unfailingly on Thursday.
Following the public outcry against the controversial purchase of two armoured BMW’s at an allegedly inflated cost of N255 million by the aviation authority, an anti-corruption crusader and member of the Movement Against Corruption, Mma Odi, has called for the resignation of the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, the Director General of the NCAA, Dele Sasegbon, as well as the Director of Finance, Salau Ozigi.
Mrs Odi, who said the scandal surrounding the agency and the minister is indefensible, added that the fact that the National Assembly did not approve the purchase resulting in the breach of the procurement process is evidence that “there is something more than what we are seeing.”
While speaking on Sunrise Daily, she explained that the backlash is as a result of the corrupt practices involved in the purchase.
“You jacked it up to 54 vehicles and you didn’t see anything wrong with that. They approved the amount of N240 million, and you jacked it up to N643 million, and there’s nothing wrong with it.”
She added: “You are going to pay N500 million interest for 3 years which means you would shut down everything to pay for two bulletproof cars.”
Analysts have said that the two BMW cars purchased at N255 million are available at the price of N60 million in the open market. “It is a clear case of corruption,” she said.
Reacting to the argument that other government officers and agencies also purchase security vehicles, Mrs Odi said the backlash resulting from the NCAA case is as a result of ‘corruption’ and ‘abuse of processes and the law.’
She also faulted the claim that the purchase of the two high priced security vehicles became necessary following threats made to the minister and NCAA officials as a result of their ‘good work’.
“If such a claim had any truth to it, they would have actually defended it before the National Assembly when the initial approval was granted for utility vehicles and Nigerians, especially you people (media) would have known that there is a threat to the minister and other stakeholders because of the good work they are doing, then people would have defended it,” the anti-corruption crusader insisted.
The agency has also not given satisfactory defense and called for the resignation of the top officials involved in the scandal.
“I actually think that all these people, both DG, both the Director of Finance, all of them should resign for sanity.”
Although corruption permeates other ministries in the country, Odi said President Jonathan should show his commitment to the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria beginning with the NCAA case.
Apologise To Nigerians
Odi has called on the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, to come clean with the truth and apologise to Nigerians. She also supported the call for the Minister’s resignation.
Several groups have protested against the call for the minister’s resignation on the grounds that she is doing a good job and insisted that the scandal was an attempt by her detractors to remove her from office. Others argued that the backlash is as a result of the Minister’s Igbo ethnicity.
Odi responded that “it is only in Nigeria we celebrate people who do what they are paid to do because in our society, people do not do what they are paid to do.”
If she is doing well, I am proud, as it will open doors for other women to be in power.
She alleged that those protesting in favour of Oduah are hired, describing them as ‘cash and carry’.
“Stella should actually tender an unreserved apology even if she didn’t know about the procurement process,” it happened under her watch.