Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah might have bitten more than she can chew, as probe now seems to be flying in from all corners, over the controversial purchase of two bullet-proof cars for her by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, without necessary approvals.
There was indication yesterday that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, might move in to unravel the untidy deal, which has added to the list of misgivings denting Nigeria’s battered image before the international community.
According to a source at the commission, the agency was under pressure from Nigerians, particularly civil society groups to probe the purchase of the controversial High Security Sedans, HSS.
The source, which pleaded anonymity because he had not been authorised to speak to the media on the matter, told Vanguard that the operatives were studying the situation and could move in without notice.
“It is not our duty to serve notice to those we want to investigate so that the suspect might not be put on notice. When we want to do our job, we simply swoop on the suspects, the source said.
“We have been inundated with queries as to when we are going to investigate the purchase of the cars for the minister but we cannot give any notice because they would no longer be a surprise.
“In a matter of this nature, the necessary steps must be taken at the appropriate time,” the source explained.
There were indications that the whole transaction did not pass through the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, since the cars were allegedly bought based on what a source described as ‘Anticipatory Approval’ and delivered on Hire-Purchase Agreement to the NCAA.
Efforts to get clarification from the Director-General of the BPP, Mr. Emeka Eze, proved abortive, as calls to his phone, rang out. Eze did not also respond to text messages sent to his phone.
BPP’s Head of Media, Dr. Biodun Adeniyi, could not also be reached for comments on the matter, as his phone was switched off at the time of filing the report.
Controversy over the cars has thrown up a serious image problem for both the minister and the NCAA since the papers were leaked last week.
Initially, the minister’s office had owned up on the purchase of the cars, justifying it on the need to protect the minister’s life given the far-reaching changes and innovations she had introduced that angered some unnamed persons in the country.
However, following public outrage, the statement was later withdrawn and the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, made to explain that the cars were procured for the use of the minister and visiting foreign dignitaries, a claim that further infuriated the Nigerian public.
As a result, many Aviation stakeholders and civil society organisations have asked Princess Oduah to resign and save her face from further indignation.
The Presidency is said to have been seriously embarrassed by the unfolding drama over the luxury cars and might be considering measures to save its face. [Vanguard]