Investigation On Stella Oduah Continues – EFCC

EFCC operatives at workThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it is still investigating the former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, over the purchase of two armored cars for N255 million

The spokesman of the Anti-graft Agency, while meeting with journalists, said the complex nature of the case is responsible for the  nature of the investigation.

The agency says it is also waiting for the National Assembly to complete its work on the missing 49 million dollars allegedly unremitted by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

The spokesman also referred journalists to the Independent National Electoral Commission when questioned about the eligibility of the governorship candidate, Ayo Fayose, to contest the governorship election in Ekiti State.

The BEAM: Nigerians React To Aviation Scandal

On this edition of the programme, Nigerians in different parts of the world joined a Google Hangout to share their opinion on the scandal involving the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.

Social Media Ehtusiast, Ayobami Oyalowo, analysed the saga and came to the conclusion that ‘something is fishy’ and alleged that the individuals involved in the scandal have introduced a game of semantics to “confuse the unsuspecting Nigerian public.”

#StellaGate: Afenifere Demands Probe Into Other Agencies’ Pockets

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently set up a judicial panel of inquiry that will investigate the cost of governance since 2009 when late President Umar Yar’Adua took ill.

The group, in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Olawale Oshun, argued that the ongoing investigation into procurement of armoured vehicles by the aviation ministry ought to be extended to other ministries, departments, and agencies of government, including the presidency and legislature.

“We are convinced that the revelations coming out of our aviation ministry represent only a tip of the iceberg, a fraction of the widespread disregard for probity and budget-based administration in our public service,” Oshun said in the statement.

The group described the media frenzy about the #Stellagate controversy as “undue focus” and stated that such would only serve to “cover up similar abuses in other Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and also the legislative house in Abuja. Our suspicion is that many other ministers and top government officials are beneficiaries of similar unusual gifts.”

“Just recently, the House Committee Chairman on Public Accounts cried out that budgetary performance of capital expenditure stands currently at 28 per cent; that of recurrent expenditure stands at 72 per cent; while that of the N1.6tn Service Wide Vote, a nebulously defined allocation spent at the President’s discretion, stands at 90 per cent.

“We must not, as a country, fail to extend the ongoing investigation into other MDAs, going by the recent revelation that 2013 budget performance is less than 40 percent and the disclosure of Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, before the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation that Nigeria has lost N603.2bn to waivers and exemptions between January and September alone. Waivers were even granted for importation of petroleum products to the tune of N263.8bn.

“We suspect that profligacy of the worst degree since 1999 is staring us in the face and it serves no nationalistic purpose to devote national resources in the presidency and legislature to probe a mere fraction of the problem. What the country needs now is a holistic probe, the type that can engender a comprehensive reform in cost of governance.”

Oshun said a judicial inquiry is necessary to “enable the introduction of proper reforms that would prevent Oduahgate in future.”

“To mindlessly concentrate on the Oduah issue without externalising the inquiry would only short change the country and our search for probity. We urge Nigerians not to wait for another shocking revelation of corruption but to demand for holistic reform of governance,” the statement read.

 

Senate Cancels Meeting With Oduah

The Senate has rescinded its earlier resolution to invite the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, to brief lawmakers at plenary on the state of the aviation sector and the high number of plane crashes and aviation incidents in the country.               

The minister of aviation was supposed to appear before the senate at plenary on Thursday, to explain the reason behind the series of air mishaps in the country.

The senate minority leader, Ganiyu Solomon, said lawmakers had reached a unanimous decision at an executive session last week to rescind the senate resolution to invite the minister.

The minister of aviation will now appear before the senate committee on aviation instead.

Aviation Scandal: More Revelations As Senate, House of Reps Investigate

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.

 

NCAA Scandal: Anti-graft Crusader Calls For Resignation Of Top Officers

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.

Responding to Ozigi’s statement that he didn’t see the need for the controversy as the agency wouldn’t be the first to purchase such cars, Odi said the ministry ran foul of the Appropriation Act of 2013 which only approved 25 utility vehicles.

“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.