As controversy rages over the N225 million car scandal involving the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA), a non-governmental organisation, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of cover up in the scandal.
The Executive Director of the organisation, Rev. David Ugolor who raised the allegation said rather than setting up a three-man administrative panel of inquiry to investigate the issue, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offices Commission (ICPC) should have been allowed to handle the matter since the body is in charge of matters like that.
Ugolor condemned the step taken by President Goodluck Jonathan over the Minister of Aviation’s profligacy and corrupt use of public funds to purchase two BMW armoured cars for her personal use.
In his words, “Jonathan wants to cover-up the gross impunity and corrupt practices of the Aviation Minister, Ms Stella Oduah.
“Just yesterday, the Special Adviser to President Jonathan, Reuben Abati, announced to journalists after the meeting of Federal Executive Council that President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a three man panel to probe the N255 million BMW cars scandal involving Princess Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation. He also confirmed reports that the President also issued a query in which explanation was demanded from the Minister over the car scandal.
“We condemn in its entirety this step taken by President Goodluck Jonathan over the Minister of Aviation’s profligacy and corrupt use of public funds to purchase two BMW armoured cars.
“Setting up of a panel of inquire by the President is a clear move to cover up Stella Oduah who we all know is a close ally to President Jonathan. We say this because in a country where we have different anti-corruption agencies saddled with the responsibility of trying cases such as this, what is the need for a panel?
“With the facts on ground, a clear case of corruption and misappropriation of public fund has been established. So I see no reason why the President is setting up a panel of inquiry rather than suspending the Minister of Aviation at once and mandating the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to carry out their duties on her.
“It is an established fact that the contract was not listed in the budget by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), the agency compelled by the Minister to make the purchase; and was not listed by the Federal Airport Authority, (FAAN) or Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA).
“The ministry’s own budget too, had no plan to purchase any car for the minister, or other officials. And we know that spending public funds on unbudgeted projects attracts three years in jail and a fine of N100, 000 as stipulated by the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Law, so why a panel rather than allowing the law to take its course if not for a cover-up?
It is also a fact that each of the BMW cars should cost no more than $167,000 which is approximately N36m which is far below the whopping N255m spent for the purchase.
“In 2005, when a Minister of Education, Fabian Osuji was suspected to have gone to lobby members of the National Assembly to influence the budgetary allocation of his ministry, he was shown the way out without the constitution of any panel of inquiry.
“Over the years, panels have been the easiest ways out of all forms of shoddiness in government and no panel result has ever seen the light of the day. We have so many panel results begging for attention and implementation yet on a clear case of impunity in governance, the President is setting up a panel, what a shame?
He however called on President Goodluck Jonathan to walk the talk of fighting corruption by allowing anti-corruption agencies to carry out their duties rather than aiding and abetting corruption by using a cover-up panel to swindle the people.