The National Assembly has expressed its readiness to dig into the controversial N255 million armoured cars bought by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for Mrs. Stella Oduah.
On its part, the House of Representatives last night summoned the minister to appear before it for further details.
According to the Aviation Committee chair Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the following names will also appear along with the minister at the emergency public hearing today: the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Managing Director, Coscaharis Motors; Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service; Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement; Managing Director, First Bank Plc; Federal Ministry of Finance and members of the public.
The decision followed a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the Minority Whip, Hon. Samson Osagie. The motion with the title: “Investigations into the purchase of $1.6 m bulletproof BMW cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for Honourable Minister of Aviation, pursuant to Section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”, said considering “the poverty and unemployment ravaging our dear nation and its people , it will be absurd, unthinkable and indeed unpatriotic for an agency of government to connive with its political head to incur such an expenditure simply for the comfort and safety of one public officer”.
“The furore generated by the said matter has left tongues wagging as to the sincerity and objectivity of this administration’s stand on the fight against corruption as again re-emphasised by Mr. President’s nationwide broadcast on October 1 2013 ( just three weeks ago).”
The lawmaker explained that “the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC) has elaborate recommendation as to the way public officers, including ministers are to be catered for in terms of salaries and emoluments, housing and motor vehicle, which recommendations have been passed into law by the National Assembly.”
He said the purchase brings to light a question “on why we are in the state we are”.
“That they purchased two vehicles for such an amount; this is a country that the university system has been shut down in the last four months; where criminality has taken over the rein of government.
“This is a country that is asking for a permanent seat in the United Nations.”
The Law makers rejected a proposal to bring Committees on Public Procurement, Justice and Anti-corruption into the investigation through amendments to the motion.
Meanwhile Senate Committee on Aviation Chairman Hope Uzodinma yesterday denied the speculation that the Upper Chamber was delaying the car purchase probe.
Speaking to reporters after plenary in Abuja, the lawmaker said the Senate had also resolved to summon Ms. Oduah and heads of aviation parastatals over the car purchase.
“With the approval of the votes and proceedings of the last Senate session today (Tuesday), containing the summoning of the minister, our committee will now meet within the week to fix the date to invite the minister and other relevant aviation chiefs for questioning on the troubled sector.”
“As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, I have read a lot on the alleged scandal in the media and I believe other members of the committee are also up to date on the raging issue.
“However, we cannot jump into the fray of the controversy like that on the strength of media information alone, without properly checking our records for facts and figures on whether the alleged vehicles bought were appropriated for or not by the agency that purchased them.
“Our appeal to the general public for now is that they should exercise patience on the entire crisis bedeviling the aviation sector as the Senate and, in particular, its Committee on Aviation, will surely carry out a thorough investigation to unravel all issues behind the whole crisis,” the lawmaker added.