Written by Wole Shadare, Chuks Nwanne (Lagos) and Bridget Chiedu Onochie (Abuja)
• Senate may not discuss alleged scandal
THERE are indications that following the revelation of purchase of two bullet proof cars for the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) heads may begin to roll in the agency soon, The Guardian has reported.
Apart from NCAA, which is the prime target, staff of other agencies in the sector like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are not free from the eagle eyes of investigators as the government is said to be suspecting that they leaked the information to the media.
At the headquarters of NCAA yesterday at the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, workers were seen discussing the development in low tones.
Since the issue was blown open by the media last week, several Nigerians have reacted angrily to it by describing the amount involved as outrageous and fraudulent. Some of the analysts also called for the immediate removal of the minister on the ground that the purchase of the expensive security cars did not follow due process.
NCAA has been in debts for several months just as it was revealed that the luxury cars were bought on credit from Coscharis Auto Company while First Bank Plc stood as a guarantor for the agency.
Besides, following the embarrassment the revelation of the controversial deal has caused the Federal Government, the Director General of the NCAA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, announced plans to launch an investigation to unravel those behind the official information leakage.
Akinkuotu while speaking at a press conference in Abuja described the information leakage as criminal, saying the action posed danger to a sensitive government agency like the NCAA.
The declaration of the NCAA DG to set up a committee to probe the information leakage has created tension within the agency as workers who spoke but did not want their names in print, expressed the fear that the management may use the opportunity to sack innocent people or those they found not to be blindly loyal to them.
Meanwhile, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) have submitted a joint Freedom of Information(FOI) request to the NCAA asking for detailed information on the procurement records for the purchase of the bullet-proof.
In the letter addressed to Akinkuotu, MRA and PPDC asked for the procurement records for the purchase by the NCAA of two BMW 760 Li HSS vehicles with chassis numbers WBAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044.
Specifically, the groups requested for copies of the procurement and contract records for the purchase of the vehicles, including: evidence of budgetary allocation for the procurement process; the procurement plan for the purchase of the vehicles; evidence of advertisements of the planned purchase in various newspapers, the NCAA website, among others.
And as the Senate resumes plenary today after a two-week break, there are no indication that the crises rocking the aviation industry would be among issues on its agenda.
A close source told The Guardian that the initial plan to quiz Oduah and chief executives of Aviation parastatals over the state of the nation’s aviation sector, is not listed in today’s Order Paper.