N255m cars: Reps panel proposes Oduah's sack
Aviation Minister Stella Oduah maysoon be waving a painful farewell to her controversial job -should the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation have it way.
It is to recommend today that President Goodluck Jonathan should sack Ms Oduah, for exceeding the official limit in approving the purchase of two bulletproof vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at N255million.
The committee may have recommended also sanctions for the former acting Director General (DG) of NCAA, Nkemakolam Joyce, and the agency's Director of Finance, Salawu N. Ozigi - in line with the Civil Service Rules.
The panel is to seek the immediate termination of a loan agreement of N643, 088,250.00 to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles (including the armoured vehicles) between the NCAA and the First Bank of Nigeria.
Coscharis Motors Limited is to be asked to refund the N255million meant for the bulletproof vehicles. Besides, the panel will recommend that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should investigate the company for alleged abuse of waivers.
These key five recommendations are some of the major highlights in the report of the committee, which will be tabled today before the House of Representatives.
The report will then be debated and put to vote before the House takes a stand on the matter, which has generated so much heat in the polity.
According to sources, after a prolonged debate on Oduah's fate, the panel agreed that the minister allegedly violated the 2013 Appropriation Act and the Public Procurement Act because due process was not followed in approving the purchase of the armoured vehicles.
The committee recommended to the House to ask 'President Goodluck Jonathan to review the continued engagement of Stella Oduah as the Minister of Aviation, having contravened the 2013 Appropriation Act by overshooting her threshold of N100million and for violating the Public Procurement Act.'
The report said: 'The committee recommends sanctions for the acting DG of NCAA, Nkemakolam Joyce and the agency's Director of Finance, Salawu N. Ozigi, in accordance with civil service rules for circumventing the Public Procurement Act.'
On Coscharis Motors Limited, the committee directed that the auto firm should 'refund the N255million paid to it for the bulletproof vehicles through a loan agreement with immediate effect'.
'The armoured cars are also to be returned to Coscharis Motors Limited.
'The N643, 088,250.00 loan agreement with the First Bank of Nigeria by the NCAA to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles should also be terminated forthwith because it is not in the interest of the country.
'The EFCC is also advised to further investigate Coscharis Motors Limited for abuse of the waiver process and the discrepancies in the chassis numbers of some of the BMW vehicles.'
Speaking with our correspondent last night, a member of the panel said: 'As a matter of fact, there was nowhere in papers to show that the vehicles were bought in the name of the minister.
'But in terms of approval, the minister was found guilty, having gone beyond her threshold of N100million. Due process was also not followed in the purchase of the vehicles by the NCAA.'
On the next step, another source said: 'It is left to the House to accept or reject our recommendations.
'It was not easy arriving at these recommendations because of vested interests and pressure, but most members of the committee put the nation ahead of personal matters. The committee members had to reconsider the wording of recommendations on the minister.'
First Bank Plc was given a clean bill of health in respect of the transactions.
The July 30, 2013 agreement between NCAA and First Bank of Nigeria reads in part: 'The borrower (NCAA) has applied to the bank for a Term Loan Facility (herein referred to as 'the facility') in the sum of N643, 088,250.00 to finance the purchase of 54 vehicles for Management Staff of NCAA on Grade level 15 and above.
'The bank has agreed in the usual banking terms to extend to the borrower the said facility on terms and conditions herein contained in this Loan Agreement and in the Letter of Offer which terms are hereby incorporated into this agreement.
'The parties hereto have agreed to secure the facility, including interest and other charges.
'The facility shall be for a period of 36 months without moratorium. Subject to the terms and conditions hereinafter contained, the Borrower shall repay the facility hereunder in 36 monthly installments as contained in the Letter of Offer.
'The borrower shall until the repayment of facility to the Bank pay interest on the balance outstanding and on all monies whatsoever at any time owing to the bank at the rate of 18 % per annum(all inclusive) or such other rates in line with changing market conditions as may be advised.
'The borrower hereby covenants with the bank that so long as any part of the facility or interest or other moneys hereby covenanted to be paid remains outstanding, the borrower shall:
•furnish annually to the Bank not more than 120 days after the end of the period in respect of which they have been made up Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Accounts showing the true position of the Borrower's affairs such Balance Sheet and Accounts being certified by the Auditors …'
'The borrower will also from time to time supply to the bank such other information as the bank shall reasonably require in respect of the assets and liabilities of the business operation and administration of the Borrower and shall permit and enable the bank's representative to inspect the borrower's properties and operations including all relevant records and documents after giving reasonable notice; and costs of such inspection and the out of pocket expenses incurred by the bank's representative aforesaid during such inspection being payable on demand by the Borrower provided that such costs are fair and reasonable.' (Nation)