The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has ordered the controversial Aviation minister, Stella Oduah, to appear before it between now and next Tuesday, the deadline for its investigation into the scandal surrounding the purchase of two armoured cars at N255 million.
The order came after the permanent secretary in the ministry, who led a team of officials to represent his boss, told the lawmakers that Oduah was in Israel to sign a bilateral air agreement with Israel and will not be able to return before Tuesday.
Chairman of the committee, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, refused to listen to the minister’s representatives, insisting that she must appear before it even if it means that she returns to the country by a chartered flight.
Meanwhile, the minister in a swift response to a query issued by the President over the scandal said the procurement of the two armoured BMW vehicles at the cost of N255 million followed due process.
Oduah maintained that there is always an annual budgetary provision for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment.
“The NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) is charged with oversight responsibilities over all civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPs, and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs,” she said..
Oduah added: “Towards the effective implementation of its statutory regulatory responsibilities, therefore, it is imperative that the NCAA is fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities, including adequate operational vehicles to cover all 22 national airports and over 400 airstrips.”
In the minister’s lame explanation, she shied away from mentioning the cost of the vehicles or how armoured cars would be used for operational reasons.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday set up a three-man administrative panel to investigate the armoured car scandal.
The panel, which has two weeks to submit its findings, is to investigate whether the procurement of the vehicles for about N255 million followed due process or not. The panel is also to look into the main reasons for procuring the vehicles.