by Akintomiwa Agbaje
The removal of the aviation minster by the the House of Representatives has been recommended to the aviation committee over her decision to order the purchase of two armoured cars at an inflated price of N255 million.
The House committee had investigated Mrs. Stella Oduah after she directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to purchase two armoured bulletproof cars at a cost beyond her approval limit as minister.
The Nigerian Eye reports:
The contract breached the federal appropriation and public procurement laws, as it was neither budgeted for by government nor was it publicly advertised and bided for.
Mrs. Oduah claimed she did nothing wrong as funding for the cars, made available for First Bank, was arranged to comply with her spending limit and relevant laws. She said the purchase was not done in her name.
At its plenary Thursday, the House approved a recommendation asking President Goodluck Jonathan to “review the continued engagement” of Mrs. Oduah.
The House also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to further investigate other officials involved in the scam and the car supplier, Coscharis Motors.
In an immediate reaction, Mrs. Oduah said she was “disappointed and shocked” at the decision. She said the lawmakers brushed aside a “deluge” of evidence to implicate her.
“We are shocked and disappointed that in spite of the deluge of representations and evidences provided by the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah and ail 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,” a statement by the minister’s office said.
The minister said the decision only proved the House’s “underhand tactics” which had long manifested in the decision of some members of the committee to leak copies of the report to the media.
Mrs. Oduah reiterated her earlier claim of innocence and said all decisions she took on the procurement followed due process.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
She said the action of the committee and the House were “pre-medicated with the sole aim of casting aspersion on the person and office of the Aviation Minister.”