Reps’ Aviation Panel Indicts Minister, NCAA

Posted: November 8, 2013 in Politics

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There were indications on Wednesday that the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation had established some infractions against the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
The committee is investigating the controversial purchase of two bulletproof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority allegedly for Oduah at a whopping N255m.

However, she testified before the committee, which is chaired by Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, and denied that the cars were bought for her use.

The panel  ended  its public hearing on the transaction on Monday.

Oduah was expected to appear before   the Senate    on Wednesday but could  not because of the Federal Executive Council meeting.

Findings by FN source indicated that  the Onyejeocha –led committee  might  lay its  report before the House on Thursday (today).

It was gathered that after deliberating on records before them, members of the panel had established some infractions against the minister and the NCAA.

Sources close to the committee confided in #FN source that “at least four issues are no longer disputable.”

According to findings, one of the issues is “extra-budgetary spending”, while the second is “approval beyond ministerial limit.”

It was learnt that the committee also established a case of “violation of public procurement procedures.”

Similarly, the panel confirmed that “indeed, N255m was spent to buy two bulletproof BMW cars and the use of waivers meant for EKO Games to import the cars.”

One of the sources told one of our correspondents  that the committee tried to remain focused on its core mandate and not to veer off into other allegations that might have been levelled against the Ministry of Aviation.

The source  said,  “Some infractions have been established, no doubt.

“The recommendations of the committee will follow glaring issues that came up during the public hearing.

“For example, it has been established that while the National Assembly approved N240m for the NCAA to buy 25 vehicles this year, it spent over N643m to procure 54 vehicles.

“That is a case of extra-budgetary spending.

“We have heard the minister admitting that she acted on a proposal for lease financing of N564m.

“Whether she was not properly guided as she told the committee or not, what is clear is that the figure is above the N100m that a ministerial board can approve.

“What role did the Bureau of Public Procurement play in this transaction? No role at all; another infraction.

“The BPP came here to testify and they told us that there was no communication between them and the NCAA over the transaction.”

A  member of the committee, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, confirmed that  the report could be laid on Thursday(today).

“The report should be laid in plenary tomorrow (today). We are presenting it,” he stated.

Oduah however did not appear before the Senate on Wednesday as she sought a last-minute permission to attend the weekly FEC  meeting.

Oduah had been summoned by the Senate to explain her roles in the October 3 plane crash in Lagos and her role in the purchase of the controversial bulletproof cars.

A source told one of our correspondents in Abuja  that the minister   sent “a last-minute letter to the Senate leadership on Tuesday evening, requesting another date because she needed  tto attend the FEC meeting”

Our correspondent learnt that Oduah’s request was granted but was directed to  appear  on Thursday(today).

Immediately after the FEC meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,  Anyim  Pius Anyim,   whisked the embattled minister  off from the Presidential Villa.

Sensing that State House correspondents might be waiting to engage her on the car scandal, he quickly engaged her in a discussion as they  walked   to where  the SGF parked his  Sport Utility Vehicle .

From, there    both of them were driven away through the Service Chiefs Gate.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has interrogated five  top officials of the NCAA  over the  N255m car scandal.

A top official of the commission, who made this known, said the NCAA chiefs   arrived at the commission’s office in Abuja at 2pm.

It was learnt that they were asked to write statements on their involvement in the scandal and thereafter asked  a few questions.

The source, who did not want his name in print,  said that the NCAA chiefs were allowed to go  at about 4pm.

He  said the commission would also  look into some transactions by    the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria.

The source said, “The commission interrogated a team from Coscharis Motors on Tuesday. We have quizzed five top officials of the NCAA.

“The commission is not stopping with the NCAA, our investigators will also interrogate some officials of FAAN.”

 When contacted,  the Head of Media of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the EFCC would also interrogate  officials of some of the agencies in the aviation sector.

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