Armoured car scandal: Suspend Minister Oduah, HURIWA tells Jonathan

Posted by News Express | 24 October 2013 | 3,856 times

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for the immediate suspension of the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, over the alleged purchase and deployment of two exotic BMW bulletproof cars for her use by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

HURIWA in a statement issued this afternoon in Abuja said Oduah should be suspended pending investigation just as it advocated the suspension of the officials of the NCAA implicated in the alleged illicit purchase.

Besides, the group has faulted the setting up of the Alhaji Sali Bello Isa-led presidential investigation committee on the alleged N255 million bulletproof cars “because it constitutes a surreptitious attempt by  the federal government to strip the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Allied Offenses Commission (ICPC) of their original jurisdiction to investigate, arrest and prosecute all the indicted Aviation Ministry officials who allegedly breached extant public procurement Act of 2007 and Fiscal Responsibility Act in making the purchase of the bullet proof cars far  above market asking price without adherence to extant statutes and in total breach of the year 2013 appropriations Act.” HURIWA said the presidential panel is at best a kangaroo contraption set up to manipulate public opinion even as it said that the panel lacks credibility.   

Dismissing the presidential probe panel as “a gimmick and grand conspiracy to divert public attention and provide unmeritorious soft landing to all the indicted Aviation Ministry officials,” HURIWA urged the National Assembly to defend the constitution by compelling EFCC and ICPC to probe the scam and by so doing protect the integrity and the sanctity of the anti-graft crusade.

The statement jointly endorsed by HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Officer, Ms. Zainab Yusuf, also asked EFCC and ICPC to similarly probe the allegations in some quarters that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), and the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, allegedly purchased two bulletproof cars using public fund to the tune of N600 million for their official and/or personal uses.

HURIWA called on the national hierarchy of the opposition APC to show good example by supporting the probe of both allegations of purchase of bulletproof cars by their party members in 2011 and the Aviation Ministry in 2013 because, according to HURIWA, equity demands that corruption and economic crimes allegedly committed by Nigerians of all political and economic status must be independently investigated and if cases of breach of public Procurement Act and Fiscal Responsibility Act are established, such indicted Nigerians must face the full wrath of the law.

The rights group affirmed that it is imperative that all hands are on deck to eradicate corruption in Nigeria because of the international reputational damage that it has done on the international image of Nigeria just as the group reminded the Nigerian government that corruption was recently mentioned as a major obstacle to Nigeria’s economic advancement at the ongoing Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria’s Human Rights status at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

HURIWA stated thus: “We call on President Jonathan not to waste public fund in probing the groundswell of allegation of corrupt purchase of two bullet proof cars leveled against the minister of Aviation and NCAA but to refer the matter and/or allow EFCC and ICPC to exercise their full independence by investigating the scam. The President should view this as an opportunity to demonstrate to Nigerians that the waning anti-graft war is being resuscitated by immediately suspending the Aviation Minister from office pending conclusion of probe by the statutory anti-graft agencies.

“Officials of NCAA must also be suspended to stop them from further deploying public fund at their disposal to seek to defend themselves of these monumental allegations.”

•Photo shows Aviation Minister Stella Oduah.

Source: News Express

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