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Oduah scandal: Jonathan may shun House report

By The Rainbow


President Goodluck Jonathan and the House of Representatives may clash over the probe into the purchase of two bulletproof cars for the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that Jonathan had no intention of acting on the recommendation of the House committee that probed the scandal.

The NCAA had reportedly paid about N255m for the  two bulletproof BMW 760 Li cars. While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation in Abuja on Thursday, the NCAA admitted that the Ministry of Aviation approved the purchase of the cars for Oduah. But Oduah had denied any wrongdoing, but blamed her aides and the acting Director General of the NCAA for the scandal.

The House had recommended that Jonathan should sack the minister for exceeding the official limit in approving the purchase of the two bulletproof cars while sanctions were also recommended for the former acting Director General of NCAA, Nkemakolam Joyce, and the agency's Director of Finance, Salawu Ozigi.

The panel also reportedly sought for the immediate termination of a loan agreement of N643, 088,25 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 N255m meant for the bulletproof vehicles while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should investigate the company for alleged abuse of waivers.

It also called on Nigerians to mount necessary pressure to ensure the probe of Oduah. It made the call after the Presidency told SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday that it was not under any obligation to implement the probe report that indicted Oduah.

A very reliable source in the Presidency told one of our correspondents on Friday that the President was not legally bound to act on the recommendations.

The source said if Jonathan had wanted to act on the report, he would not have bothered to set up a three-man administrative panel headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Sali Bello, to probe the same matter.

He stated that the President knew from inception that a lot of interests would play out in the House of Representatives probe, hence his decision to set up his own probe panel.

He said, 'I am sure you are aware that the President also set up an administrative panel to probe this matter.

'If he has confidence in the House of Representatives probe and is duty-bound to implement its resolution, he would not have bothered to set up a separate probe panel.

'The position of this government from inception has been that the resolutions of the National Assembly should be seen strictly as what they are: they are simply advisory and the President is not legally bound to implement them.

'Let us all wait for the President's administrative panel to conclude its work and see whether he will implement the report or not.'

The House, however, expressed no surprise about the Presidency's  alleged disposition to its recommendations.

'It is the duty of the Executive to implement reports; if they say they will not implement, it is left to Nigerians to judge,' House spokesman, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said.

'In plenary, we shall take a formal position on the matter. We will respond to the Presidency appropriately. We would have been surprised if they accepted to implement the report.'

Mohammed further accused the Presidency of deliberately shunning the House resolutions.

'There are 36 bills passed by the National Assembly awaiting presidential assent, which has not been done. They don't act on our resolutions; that we know. It is left to Nigerians to judge; it is their turn to decide,' he said.

SUNDAY PUNCH