by Ayobami Olopade
Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation submitted its report on investigations into the alleged N255 million car scandal that the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah has been embroiled in, Now, more details have emerged on its recommendations.
According to a report by Leadership Newspaper, the committee recommended a three-year jail term for the minister.
In the report, the committee concluded that the minister asked the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) to purchase the two BMW bulletproof cars that cost N255m.
It said that “the contract for the purchase of the cars was not listed in the budget by NCAA, the agency compelled by the minister to make the purchase, and was not listed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA)”
Princess Oduah was also indicted for contempt of parliament by approving a sum in the 2014 budget when it has not been presented to the National Assembly, saying: “The minister’s poor supervisory role led NCAA into unilaterally appropriating funds against next year’s budget. The above is an indirect contempt of parliament, even so that the president and commander-in-chief has not submitted to the National Assembly the 2014 Appropriation Bill.”
Her sins, according to the committee also included approving over-inflated contract by approving a sum for the cars which is considered a “rip-off” by car experts. The minister, according to the report, has not addressed why the NCAA paid a price tag that “auto dealers in the US and UK described as a ‘rip-off’. It is a fact that each of the BMW cars should cost no more than $167,000 which is approximately N36 million.”
“Aviation minister approved NCAA’s request to procure 55 operational vehicles valued at N564.665 million; there is no evidence to show that the Hon. Minister presented NCAA’s request to FEC for its approval. Further, the attempt to procure now and pay later is against the extant laws of the Federation.”
The NCAA received its fair share of indictment from the committee as it was accused of non-compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act on Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) for not remitting its IGR to the federation account contrary to section 177 of Nigeria’s Financial Regulations(2009).
In its recommendations, the committee put forward that “Spending of public funds on unbudgeted projects attracts three years in jail and a fine of N100,000 as stipulated by the ICPC Act.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should review the continued engagement of the Hon. Minister for Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, having contravened the 2013 appropriation and approved revised thresholds by exceeding her approval limit of N100m with the purchase of 54 vehicles valued at N643m”
It also recommended that the “Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and other relevant anti-corruption agencies further investigate the discrepancies and the chassis number DW68032 of the vehicles on the one reported to be delivered and the one inspected by the committee, and if found wanting, prosecute all persons/institutions involved in the transaction.”
Coscharis Nigeria Ltd was not left out as the car dealer got this verdict.
“Coscharis Nigeria Limited should be investigated on the issue of waiver, source and exact cost of the two (2) BMW vehicles supplied to NCAA. It should be made to pay the waiver value into the treasury account. Coscharis Nigeria Limited claimed that the Federal Ministry of Finance granted it import duty, VAT, ETLS, CISS and Port charges waiver to import two(2) bulletproof BMW armoured cars. This claim is false,” said the committee in its report.
In the final analysis, the committee condemned the NCAA saying “No copies of advertisements or solicitations for bids published in at least 2 national newspapers and the website of NCAA as well as any procurement journal. No copies of bids submissions registers and duplicate copies of receipts issued to bidders on submission bids. No minutes of public bidding for technical and financial proposals, including list of CSOs and professional observers. No copies of bids evaluation by the sub-technical committees of the Tenders Board, and copies of minutes of meetings of the Tenders Board approving the winning bidder.”