The Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, has indicted the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, for not following due process in the purchase of controversial BMW armoured cars for the aviation minister, Stella Oduah.
The agency made this clarification while making a presentation at the one day public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on Thursday in Abuja.
The public hearing is to enable the committee investigate the purchase of two BMW armoured cars which has generated controversy in the last few weeks.
The House, on October 22, sequel to a motion by the Minority Whip, Samson Osagie, mandated its aviation committee to investigate the matter and report to it within one week.
Ayo Aderigbigbe, a director in the BPP, who represented the director-general of the agency, told the committee that BPP was not involved in the transaction by the NCAA or the ministry.
He explained that the action of the NCAA in respect of the purchase of the said vehicles was outright violation of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act
Moreover, he said that any goods worth more than N100 million was beyond the approval limit of the NCAA, and must go to the Federal Executive Council, FEC for approval.
Also, the chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nkiruka Onyejiocha, and other members of the committee accused the NCAA of violating the provisions of the 2013 Appropriation Act.
The Representatives said that NCAA also violated the constitution of the country which stipulated the way public fund should be spent.
As the members questioned the director-general of NCAA, Fola Akintokun, and the former acting director-general of the agency, Joyce Nkemakolam, on the purchase of operational vehicles, it was discovered that the NCAA went beyond what was appropriated for it in the year 2013 budget.
While the National Assembly appropriated a sum of N240 million for NCAA for the purchase of 25 operational vehicles in the 2013 budget, officials of the agency went out of their way to commit the sum of N643 million for the purchase of 54 cars instead.
Nkemakolam even revealed that the purchase was financed through a lease agreement with some banks.
said he: “We sent a letter to the Ministry on April 5 and got approvalon April 15 to go ahead with the lease financing in line with best procurement practices. First Bank, Stanbic and Union banks emerged as potential lessors for the 54 cars at N643,88,250.00 million.”
“First Bank eventually won and we were expected to complete the payment in 36 months before we finally own the vehicles. In conclusion, I wish to point out here that we are expected to pay N23,249,181.00 million monthly, so ownership of the vehicles is still with First Bank.”
The lawmakers lamented that Nkemakolam demonstrated serious disregard to the National Assembly by neglecting its legislations, by making spending money that was not appropriated by parliament.
”So you got approval from the Ministry of Aviation and you know what Section 84 of the constitution says, that you cannot withdraw from the consolidated account or any public fund without recourse to the National Assembly?” Onyejiocha queried.
Dissatisfied with the explanations given by the NCAA team, the committee mandated them to come back on October 29 with bank statements from their operational accounts with the First Bank, Sterling Bank, UBA, FCMB, Zenith Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The lawmakers also insisted that the minister of aviation must conclude or abandon her official engagement in Israel and appear before the committee next Tuesday as a matter of compulsion.