The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has found minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah guilty of wasteful public spending, and stampeding the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) into buying her two BMW bulletproof cars that cost N255m.
And for her action, the committee recommended that Oduah should face the consequence of spending public money on unbudgeted expenditure by going to jail for three-year and a fine of N100, 000.
The report reads: “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).
“That spending public funds on unbudgeted projects attracts three years in jail and a fine of N100, 000 as stipulated by the ICPC Act.”
The lawmakers also disclosed that the NCAA did not comply with the Fiscal Responsibility Act on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as it has not been remitting its IGR to the federation account contrary to Section 177 of Nigeria’s Financial Regulations (2009).
The report, which was laid two weeks ago but is yet to be considered by the House, also states that Oduah committed contempt of the parliament by approving a sum in the 2014 budget when it has not been presented to the National Assembly, adding: “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.”
Going further, the committee indicted Oduah for approving an overinflated contract by approving a sum for the cars which international auto dealers have described as a “rip-off”.
“The minister 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.”
They therefore recommended that “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”.
On the finding of the panel that the cars allegedly purchased were different from the ones they inspected, the legislators 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”.
The report also asks the company from which the cars were purchased, Coscharis Nigeria Limited, to pay the value of the waiver for the two BMW armoured cars, having been found to have lied about the federal government giving it waiver on the cars.
It states: “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 Motors 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.”
The lawmakers also found that there were: “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.”