Oct. 30, 2013
A Senate committee holding hearings into the aviation sector in Nigeria today shockingly heard how the Aviation Minister Stella Oduah spent $1.6 million on the purchase of two armored cars today, also the committee received further confirmation that the minister received several other cars from another agency under her control.
George Uresi, the chief executive officer of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), admitted before the Senate’s aviation committee, led by Hope Uzodinma, that FAAN bought four bullet proof cars for Ms. Oduah at N70 million each. SaharaReporters, which broke the news of how the minister forced the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to buy her two bullet-proof BMWs at the inflated cost of $800,000 each, had also subsequently reported that other agencies under Ms. Oduah had also bought her extremely expensive, overpriced cars.
Mr. Uresi’s testimony today confirmed our earlier reports that the minister hauled in at least six armored cars from a variety of aviation agencies.
Our correspondent reported that Mr. Uresi, the CEO of FAAN, sweated profusely as he told Senator Uzodinma’s committee that FAAN bought four bullet-proof cars for Ms. Oduah. “He was sweating bullets even though the committee room was heavily air-conditioned,” said our citizen reporter.
According to Mr. Uresi, FAAN bought two armored Lexus limousine cars and two Prado armored sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for Ms. Oduah.
Contacted later this evening, a member of the Senate’s aviation committee told SaharaReporters that he had heard rumors that the leadership of the committee was looking for ways to cover up Ms. Oduah’s car-buying scandal. “Some of us will not allow anybody to cover up anything,” said the senator.
Senator Uzodinma gave Mr. Uresi till Monday to provide the paperwork for the purchase of the four cars his agency procured for the minister’s use.
Meanwhile, a source who works at FAAN told SaharaReporters that the deal for the purchase of the cars was done through a company linked to Ms. Oduah. “The finance department of FAAN was not in the know of the purchase as the deal was done at the minister’s office with Uresi signing off on the deal.”
Although Mr. Uresi admitted to the purchase, he refused to provide the Senate committee members with details of how the deal was finalized with a bank. He also refused to disclose if Coscharis Motors Limited was involved in the latest scandal. Coscharis Motors, which is owned by Cosmas Maduka, was involved in the shady deal for the supply of the two BMWs paid for by the NCAA for the personal use of the minister. SaharaReporters reported earlier that Ms. Oduah received more than N100 million as kickback after she arm-twisted NCAA officials to sign papers certifying delivery of the two cars. No officials of the agency ever saw the vehicles before signing the delivery documents.
SaharaReporters had also reported that another agency, National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), also bought four Toyota Tundras for the minister. After our revelation, NAMA authorities went on a desperate search for companies to claim ownership of four limousines parked at the aviation agency’s TRACON site in Abuja. Today, the Senate asked NAMA officials to bring over the supposed owners of the vehicles along with proof of their ownership.
In the end, NAMA claimed that the vehicles belong to a local airline, Overland Airways. But in a clear indication of fishiness, some other company had called SaharaReporters to claim ownership of the limousines.
Ms. Oduah is expected to appear before the House of Representative tomorrow (Wednesday) to answer questions on the scandal of the $1.6 million she squandered on the purchase of two armored BMW cars.
In the wake of our revelations of the minister’s car-buying spree, she traveled to Israel as part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s official delegation to religious sites in that country. Mrs. Oduah returned to Nigeria on Monday night a few minutes after she attended a ceremony where a Bilateral Services Agreement was signed with Israel.