The whereabouts of the two luxury bulletproof cars procured with public funds by the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, is unknown, according to the minister’s close aides and insiders in the aviation industry.
Mrs. Oduah, our sources say, has never been seen riding in them or using them for any official purpose, raising questions on whether the cars were supplied at all or whether the transaction was a mere paper process to launder public funds.
When contacted, through her spokesperson, Thursday, the minister declined to respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ enquiries regarding the whereabouts of the cars since she is not known to use them to work and other official functions.
This paper had contacted spokesperson Joe Obi specifically requesting information on the use the armoured vehicles had been put since they were delivered to Mrs. Oduah in August.
Our reporter also indicated interest in physically inspecting the cars. But the minister’s aide refused to grant permission to this newspaper to view the N255 million worth of BMWs.
After asking PREMIUM TIMES to send him a text message detailing our enquiries, Mr. Obi failed to respond and subsequently refused to answer calls made to his telephone.
But our checks at the aviation industry indicated the whereabouts of the cars remained unknown even to close aides of Mrs. Oduah.
The spokesperson for the nation’s aviation agencies, Yakubu Datti, had, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, initially dismissed the news of the purchase of the vehicles by news website, Sahara Reporters, as politically motivated “rumour.”
However, Mr. Obi admitted to the Punch Newspaper on Wednesday that the two armoured BMW cars were procured to protect his boss from “imminent threats.”
“When she came on board as the minister, she inherited a lot of baggage in terms of concession and lease agreements in the sector, which were clearly not in the interest of the government and people of Nigeria,” Mr. Obi said.
“And so, she took bold steps and some of these agreements were reviewed and some were terminated, and these moves disturbed some entrenched interests in the sector, and within this period, she began to receive imminent threats to her life; therefore, the need for the vehicles,” he added.
Sahara Reporters revealed that Mrs. Oduah compelled the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, an agency under her supervision, in a presumed case of corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of office, to procure the cars for her with public funds.
Documents show that the transaction to procure the cars started last June. Things were then sped up with the cars delivered on 15.
In a letter dated 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 armoured 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.
The total amount for the two black BMW Li HSS vehicles, with chassis numbers WBAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044 respectively, was N255,150,000, or $1,593,687.31.