Sunday, October 20, 2013

N255m Car Scandal: More trouble for Stella Oduah

Nigeria's aviation minister Stella Oduah faces more troubles after the official was involved in a scandalous purchase of two armour-plated BMW vehicles at an inflated cost of N225 million. She could face a resignation and up to 10 years in jail.
 Stella Oduah

The contract was not listed in the budget by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, the agency compelled by the minister to make the purchase; and was not listed by the Federal Airport Authority, FAAN or Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA.

The ministry’s own budget too, had no plan to purchase any car for the minister, or other officials.

Spending public funds on unbudgeted projects attracts three years in jail and a fine of N100, 000 the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences law stipulates.

Also, contracts involving public funds without due procurement processes- basically open advertising and bidding- draws a minimum of five years, and a maximum of 10 years in jail, the Public Procurement law says.

A spokesperson for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, Folu Olamiti, said the anti-graft body would make its position on the matter known later. A representative for the Bureau of Public Procurement, said the “law was clear” on this case. He did not want to be named because he was not authorized to speak.

After its initial denial of a contract that has shocked a nation with majority of its population poor, the ministry of aviation, on Sunday, admitted that two reinforced BMW sedans had been purchased for Mrs Oduah at the total cost of N255 million, a sum enough to deliver at least five of such cars.

Joe Obi, Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, said the cars were to protect Mrs Oduah from “imminent threats” bred by the minister’s purported radical reforms in the aviation industry, the Punch newspaper reported.

“When she came on board as the minister, she inherited a lot of baggage in terms of concession and lease agreements in the sector, which were clearly not in the interest of the government and people of Nigeria,” Mr Obi said.

“And so, she took bold steps and some of these agreements were reviewed and some were terminated, and these moves disturbed some entrenched interests in the sector, and within this period, she began to receive imminent threats to her life; therefore, the need for the vehicles.”

Mr. Obi did not elaborate on the processes leading to the procurement of the cars, whether it followed due process or not; or why the minister chose to mandate an agency under her supervision to deliver the cars, or still, why the contract was directly awarded to Coscharis Motors-the company that supplied the cars- in breach of government procurement laws.


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