UPDATE: Aviation Ministry declares war on staff who allegedly leaked info on Stella Oduah’s N255m cars

Stella Oduah

The ministry also condemned the information leak.

Nigeria’s Aviation Ministry has decided to go after its official(s) that allegedly leaked the information on the purchase of two armoured vehicles for the minister, Stella Oduah.

This was stated by Folayele Akinkuotu, the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, at a press conference at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

Mr. Akinkuotu during a question and answer session, after his speech, said Nicholas Edwards, a staff of the ministry who allegedly leaked the information to journalists, was now on the run. He also condemned the leak that exposed the purchase of the two armoured cars for N255 million.

He said he was “shell-shocked’’ that government information regarding the procurement of the two vehicles was obtained illegally and transmitted to the public medium in an “illegal manner’’.

“How you obtain information and how you put it in the public purview can actually be criminal,’’ he said.

The aviation boss said the agency has issued a circular to all the staff, reminding them of the “confidentiality’’ of certain aspects of their work.

The circular read by the director-general in part said: “By the nature of our work and statutory provisions, certain levels of documents, processes and information are required for the successful day-to-day operation.

“For instance, the Civil Aviation Act makes specific provisions with respect to our obligation for confidentiality and restricted access to certain information that we procure in the conduct of our  statutory functions.’’

Mr. Akinkuotu, who earlier, during his speech, said the agency was probing the source of the leaks, expressed concern that there might be other confidential information that had been obtained from the agency illegally.

“It is not fair for someone to obtain information illegally and we must accept that this is not the way to do it.’’

Mr. Akinkuotu alleged that Mr. Edwards might have committed an act of illegality in getting the information.

“If somebody breaks into someone’s office, makes copies of important document; tell me is the breaking act not criminal,” he said during the question and answer session.

Due process was followed

The aviation boss also claimed that the purchase of the two armoured vehicles followed due process.

According to Mr. Akinkuotu, the agency has taken delivery of the vehicles.

He told journalists that the vehicles were available at NCAA office for the media to see, adding that it was not the first time the agency had procured such “high security vehicles’’.

The director-general, however, did not disclose other such vehicles in the agency’s pool of cars and the cost of procurement when journalists asked her to mention more of such vehicles in the agency.

He said that the purchase of the “operational vehicles’’ was duly captured in the 2013 appropriation of the agency.

“The cars are operational vehicles used in the varied operations of the NCAA, transporting the minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries are part of this operation.

“It is internationally customary to convey our minister and these visiting dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria.

“It must be noted that during such visitations, the security of members of delegations is the sole responsibility of the host country,’’ he said.

The minister has come under attack by Nigerians and civil society organisations with many calling for her sack.

Reports say Mrs. Oduah compelled the 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.

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.

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