After looking from the sidelines as Nigerians pressed for the investigation of erstwhile Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, over her involvement in the N255 million bulletproof cars’ scam, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday finally invited her for questioning.
It was learnt that the ex-minister was put on the hot seat for over five hours before she was given provisional bail, as a result of the need to re-invite her for further questioning. However, the return date is not yet known.
A team of crack investigators are currently x-raying Ms Oduah’s response to identify areas where she might further need to shed more light on.
It was gathered that the ex-minister quietly found her way to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja at about 10am on Tuesday and was immediately ushered into the Operations Department where she was busy answering questions on her role in the bulletproof cars’ purchase till 3.30pm.
According to THE NATION, a source described Oduah’s mood as “pensive”.
The source said: “The team asked her to explain what led to the purchase of two bulletproof (armoured cars) for N255million; the purpose; and whether there was appropriation for it or not in the 2013 budget.
“She was asked for evidence of due process or concurrence/ approval by the Bureau of Public Procurement and whether her approval value was not above the limit of Ministerial Tenders Board or not.
“She was also asked to confirm if she was aware that the approved revised thresholds for service wide application (pursuant to Section 16(2) Public Procurement Act 2009 put a minister’s limit at N100million”.
The newspaper quoted another source as saying: “We also isolated issues raised by former heads of agencies in the aviation industry when they appeared before EFCC. She was directed to make some clarifications.
“This interrogation is just the first in the series. We will study her statement on oath and definitely ask follow-up questions”.
Responding to a question, the source added that the EFCC was in receipt of the reports of a three-member administrative panel set up by President Goodluck Jonathan and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on the car scam.
Oduah got a “provisional bail” – a first in the history of the anti-graft commission, which is known for using the “administrative bail” system.
An official of the commission said: “The provisional bail is a temporary measure. If there is need to detain her subsequently, we will do so.
“She has been told that she might be re-invited soon by the commission”.
It would be recalled that Ms Oduah was sacked by President Jonathan on February 11 alongside three other ministers.
Others are: Godswill Orubebe (Niger Delta), Caleb Olubolade (Police Affairs) and Yerima Ngama (State for Finance).