After 12 invitations, Aviation minister, Stella Oduah finally appears before the House of Representatives committee sitting over the Oduah armoured vehicles scandal.
The story so far:
The price on paper for the cars is the sum of N255m.
The real price of the vehicles is reported to be far less; some reports say the cost is a little more than half the amount.
The chassis numbers of the vehicles are different from the chassis numbers in the papers.
The loan with which the vehicles were bought was secured from First Bank, Mainland branch. Also the initial application was for N564m, but N634 was approved.
Import duties were not paid on the vehicles because Coscharis motors secured a waiver. The claim was that these vehicles were part of the 300 vehicles being imported for the 18th National Sports Festival (Eko Games 2012). The waiver cost the Nigerian government N10.1m
Coscharis Motors also insisted that the prices were not inflated saying the vehicles were more expensive because they were “factory fitted”.
FAAN also bought two armoured cars each for Oduah and the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. George Uriesi. Each of them got one Lexus limousine (N N60m) and one Toyota Prado jeep.
On Thursday, Oct 31, 2013, Oduah swore to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and then said she never sort to acquire these vehicles and that she never claimed that there was any threat to her life to justify the need for them.
She insinuated that she did not even initiate the procurement and never approved it. She said she merely signed ‘Approved. Do the needful’ to signify that her official do the needful under the law, thus shifting the blame to the NCAA officials.
Oduah claimed that the vehicles were not purchased for her. She claims that the NCAA bought the vehicles to cater for NCAA’s visiting foreign dignitaries and thus they were only part of the NCAA fleet of vehicles (which of course are available for the officials and Oduah to use when required).
The hearing which took off after 1pm was in the spotlight and the events unfolding is being closely followed by Nigerians.
Oduah shifted the blame to those around her; it was her aide who had given the misinformation about her needs for the armoured cars and it was the officials who sought to buy the cars and arranged for them.
She had no explanation for why she exceeded her approval limit, instead she insisted that “Approved. Do the needful” is to be accepted to be an advisory statement, not an approval.
So far there is no explanation for the discrepancy in the chassis numbers and Cosharis Motors indirectly blamed the (government) officials who checked the numbers for the record.
There is also no explanation yet, as to why N564m loan was applied for and a N634m loan was granted.
Needless to say that Oduah speech and answers did not do very much to clear her image. Nonetheless, it is not impossible that there is more to the scandal still to be revealed. The report of the committee is being awaited.