More shocking revelations were made Wednesday on the controversial armoured cars imported by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, as it was revealed that Coscharis Motors brought in the vehicles in the name of Lagos State government.
The Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, which made the disclosure on Wednesday during the hearing of the House of Representatives into the purchase, indicated that the federal ministry of finance granted a waiver of N10.1 million to Coscharis Motors for the importation of 300 vehicles, including the controversial two BMW cars.
Representing the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Manasseh Jatau, a deputy comptroller of customs, disclosed that the vehicles were brought in through Tincan Port in Lagos, adding that no import duty was collected from the owner of the goods (Coscharis Motors) as a one-year duty waiver for 300 cars was granted in the name of the company for importation of cars for Eko 2012 Games in Lagos.
Jatau said the exemption on the two BMW cars along with 298 others was at the expense of the Lagos State government, who would have been the beneficiaries of the payment.
Documents presented to the committee by the NCS showed that the import duty, Value Added Tax, VAT, ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme, Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme and Port Charges Waiver Certificate was issued by the ministry of finance on November 20, 2012.
The document was signed by the director of revenue, Rose Ngozi-Maranzu, on behalf of the finance minister.
Jatau also disclosed that contrary to earlier reports, the office of the national security adviser duly issued an approval for the purchase of the armoured cars.
He said a signed copy of a pre-shipment inspection end-user certificate issued by the NSA on June 6, 2013 showed that due approval was gotten from the office for Coscharis Motors to import three armoured cars valued at $223,653.48 into Nigeria for commercial purposes.
The document, identified as “Form A”, had the stamp of the Office of the National Security Adviser appended on it.
Members of the committee were engaged, for over 30 minutes, in a heated argument with Coscharis Motors in a move to ascertain the market price of the vehicles.
While the committee insisted that the current price of the vehicle should not exceed N50 million each, Coscharis refuted this position, saying it could never be the case with BMW B7 series anywhere in the world.
Coscharis, represented by the company’s chairman, Cosmos Maduka, alleged that the NCAA demanded an increase in the prices of the controversial vehicles over what the company had submitted earlier.
“NCAA told us that the initial price is not proper,” Maduka, said.
He also said the cars were sold to NCAA as used vehicles following the delay encountered when the company sought clearance from the office of the NSA.
But the committee insisted that Coscharis deceived the public and the government by saying that the cars were bought for NCAA when actually they were purchased on behalf of the Lagos state government.
The committee also accused the company of ripping Nigerians off.
According to the committee, the change in the prices of the vehicles from the initial N70 million to N127.5 million, even when the company had admitted that it got waiver from the government not to pay customs duties on the cars, cast aspersion on the company’s position on the prices.
The hearing later took a dramatic turn when the committee discovered that the company supplied different make and type of vehicles.
A member of the committee and spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed, said that the chassis number of one of the vehicles inspected by a delegation from the committee read DW68011.
He argued that the number differed from what Coscharis gave in their correspondences with the office of the NSA.
But in a swift response, Maduka refuted this, quoting the chassis numbers as 68044 and 68432, respectively.
He, however, promised to send the certificate issued by the NSA for the purchase of to the committee.
Earlier, the company had requested to play a video to demonstrate how exotic the cars were in a bid to justify the prices but the request was turned down by the committee.
Also the former acting director-general of NCAA, Joyce Nkemakolam told the committee that he approved a leasing agreement rather than a loan with First Bank Plc on the purchase of the cars because of an advise he received from his colleagues.
A member of the committee, Raphael Nnanna-Igbokwe, had asked why the NCAA insisted on going on with the leasing agreement after being informed by First Bank Plc that it was not disposed to leasing facility but loan facility.
“I signed the agreement based on advice from my colleagues that leasing and loan facilities are the same. I thought the templates are the same,” Nkemakolam said.
However, the committee was shocked when Nkemakolam said that as chief executive officer during the period under investigation he was not aware of the details of the delivery of the two vehicles.
The embattled minister of aviation. Stella Oduah, remained conspicuously absent at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives to probe the purchase of two BMW cars at an inflated cost of N255 million.
Oduah, was said to be in transit and had asked to appear on Thursday afternoon, but the committee only extended what seems like a final grace to her that will expire by 10 am tomorrow.