Stella Oduah’s N255m Bullet Proof Cars: The Facts And The Myths
The purchase of two bullet proof cars worth N255 million by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah has continued to attract criticism with many Nigerians calling for the sack of the minister and probe instituted.
Aviation officials are also not resting on their oars to defend the purchase of cars, but in doing so, it has continued to contradict itself, thus sending signals that there is more to what they are telling Nigerians.
Shortly after the report of the purchase of the bullet proof cars broke out, the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Datti issued a statement denying that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, purchased two armoured BMW cars for the Minister, but when it became obvious that this fact can no longer be hidden, Joe Obi, spokesperson of the minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah came out to explain that indeed, the cars were purchased for the minister.
According to Obi, the vehicles were purchased for the sole use of the minister because her life was in danger due to some “reforms” she carried out in the aviation sector.
But in what turned out to be a second rationale for the fraudulent purchase, Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Folayele Akinkuotu during a press conference in Abuja on Friday described the two cars as operational vehicles. He also claimed that transporting the Minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries was part of this operation.
“It is internationally customary to convey our Minister and these visiting foreign dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria,” he said. “It must be noted that during such visitations, the security of members of the delegations is the sole responsibility of the host country. The vehicles are therefore in the pool of the NCAA for these special assignments and are available at NCAA office and can be shown to you.”
Mr. Akinkuotu further said that the purchase of the two cars was not the first time his agency had procured high security vehicles for the aforementioned purposes, although he did not provide any details of previous transactions, their cost, or why two new vehicles were required at this time. Automobile sales companies in the US and the UK stated that each of the cars should be priced between $167,000 and $200,000. Mr. Akinkuotu insisted that necessary procurement procedures and due process were followed.
In spite of the claims however, the whereabout of the cars remains unknown. Although Mr. Akinkuotu claimed the cars were in the pool of the NCAA at yesterday’s conference, he did not show any evidence of their existence, only bragging that he could take reporters to see them if they wanted.
Earlier on Friday, Premium Times reported that the whereabouts of the two luxury cars remain a mystery. Sources told the online newspaper that Ms. Oduah had never been seen riding in them or using them for any official purpose, contrary to the story told by Mr. Akinkuotu at his press conference.
There are indications that the cars were never physically delivered to the agency. A source said the minister just ordered the transport manager at the NCAA to sign a delivery note. Everything points to the fact that the transaction was a ruse aimed at looting public funds the Minister knew to be available to NCAA.
What is even more shocking is that Mr. Akinkuotu during the press conference claimed he did not know the cost of the vehicles. The question to be asked is if Mr. Akinkuotu as the Head of the agency confirmed to have paid for the purchase is not does not know the cost of purchase, then who gave approval for the purchase as well as the release of the fund?
Well, if Akinkuotu does not know, Nigeria do. What was reported to have been paid for the two black BMW Li HSS vehicles, with chassis numbers BAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044 respectively, was N255,150,000, or $1,593,687.31.
Documents published by SaharaReporters show that the transaction to procure the cars started last June. Things were then sped up with the cars supposedly delivered on August 13, 2013. J.D Nkemakolam, the former Acting Managing Director of the NCAA, sent a letter to the Managing Director of Coscharis Motors asking the company to deliver two BMW 760 armored vehicles to the agency based on a pro-forma invoice dated June 25, 2013 at the cost of N127, 575,000 ($796,846.21) each.
However, investigations however shows that the cars cost considerably less everywhere else in the world. utomobile sales companies in the US and the UK stated that each of the cars should be priced between $167,000 and $200,000.
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