The House of Representatives yesterday adopted the Aviation committee report which found the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah culpable over her alleged role in the purchase of two BMW bullet proof cars worth N225 million and urged President Goodluck Jonathan to review her continued engagement as minister.
But in a swift reaction, the embattled minister in a statement by her Special Assistant on media, Joe Obi expressed shock that in spite of the mass of evidence presented to the Committee of the House during investigation, it went ahead to adopt all the recommendations which she said was to mar her reputation and that of her office.
The committee report also directed the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to immediately terminate all transactions and loans agreement entered into with First Bank of Nigeria Plc and directed the ministry to recover all the monies on the entire transactions and pay same back into the Consolidated Revenue Account.
The House reached the decision after considering the report of the investigation carried out on the purchases of the cars by its Committee on Aviation.
It will be recalled that the report was initially laid before the House on November 7, 2013 by the chairman of the Committee, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha.
Faulting the role of the minister, the House said that Oduah “contravened the Appropriation Act, 2013 and the Approved Revised Thresholds by exceeding the Ministry of Aviation’s approval limit of N100m by the purchase of 54 vehicles valued at 643m.”
Further directives were also given to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other relevant anti-corruption agencies to “further investigate the discrepancies in the Chasis Number (DW68032) of the vehicles on the one reported to have been delivered and the one inspected by the Committee and further investigate and if found wanting, prosecute all persons/institutions involved in the transactions.”
Also recommended for sanctions were the former Acting Director General, Nkemakolam Joyce and the Director of Finance, S. Ozigi of NCAA “in accordance with the Civil Service rules for deliberately breaching the Appropriation Act, 2013 and other Extant Laws of the Federation.”
COSCHARIS Nigeria Ltd, the vehicles clearing agency was asked to be investigated on the issue of waiver on import duties, source and exact cost of the two BMW vehicles.
It was further recommended that the company be made to pay the value of the waiver into the Federation Account.
Oduah however insisted that due process was followed in the procurement of the two amoured vehicles.
“We are shocked and disappointed that in spite of the deluge of representations and evidences provided by the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah and all invited stakeholders on the matter, the House would reach conclusions that have only confirmed that there was a hidden agenda in the entire exercise from the beginning.
“We recall vividly the underhand tactics of the House when, 24 long hours before the Report of the investigation was due to be laid before the Plenary, “Certified True Copies” were handed over to online and traditional media.
“The motive of those who handed the document to unauthorised persons has fully manifested in the adoption of the recommendations that have no reflection to the Public Hearing conducted in the full glare of Nigerians and the media.
“We stand by our earlier submissions to the committee that Due Process was followed in the procurement of the vehicles by the NCAA. The Minister told the Public Hearing; and her evidence was corroborated by the NCAA that the cars were neither purchased for her nor in her name.
“Evidence also shows that the cars in question were included as a line item under the “safety and security vehicles” sub-head in the Appropriation Act. The position of the committee that this was not included the budget is spurious as clear evidence exists in the Appropriation Act as stated above.
“The action of the Committee and the House were pre-meditated with the sole aim of casting aspersion on the person and office of the Aviation Minister. We reiterate that the recommendations of the Committee do not reflect the actual course of proceedings at the Hearing,” Oduah said.