by Dare Lawal
Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, was on Wednesday quizzed for over five hours by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at their Idiagbon House headquarters in Abuja.
According to reports, Oduah arrived at Idiagbon House around 10am and left at 3.30pm after being granted a provisional bail. She responded to questions and later wrote a statement about her role in the the purchase of two BMW bulletproof cars by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority at a sum of N255m.
Here’s The Punch report on the incident:
The Intelligence and Special Operations Section of the commission was instructed to ensure an in-depth investigation of the scandal.
It was further gathered that one Mr. Chike of ‘Team 3’ of the Intelligence and Special Operations Section led the team of investigators that grilled Oduah.
Our source said, “The former minister, Ms. Oduah, was today(Wednesday) quizzed for more than five hours by operatives of the EFCC.
“The ex-minister arrived at the Commission at about 10am today, Wednesday, April 2 and left at 3.30pm.
“She was granted a provisional bail after making useful statement that will assist the investigation of the scandal.
“The Intelligence and Special Operations Unit is in charge of the case. Chike, who belongs to ‘Team 3’ led the team of investigators on Wednesday.
“He is the head of the team of investigators handling the case but he reports to the sectional head of ISOS, Mr. Abdul Suleiman.”
The EFCC had said repeatedly that the bulletproof car scandal known as Oduahgate, was being investigated but it had refused to say when the ex-minister would be interrogated.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had said that it was not in the character of the EFCC to inform those to be interrogated in advance.
The purchase of the cars at a whopping N255m had sparked a nationwide controversy which culminated in the removal of Oduah on February 12, 2014.
Prior to her exit from the Federal Executive Council, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation had come up with a report which was endorsed by the House on December 19, 2013.
The committee had recommended a review of Oduah’s appointment for approving the expenditure of N643m for the NCAA to buy 54 vehicles last year beyond her limit of N100m.
The committee also stated that no budgetary appropriation was made for the purchase of the two BMWs.
It also noted that the proposal by the NCAA was rejected and wondered why the erstwhile minister allowed the agency to carry on with the purchase of the vehicles.
The spokesperson for the House, Mr. Zackary Mohammed, had explained that the lawmakers wanted the minister sacked.
He said, “The word ‘review’ here means a change in status. It is a mild way of saying that Mr. President should sack the minister.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had also set up a committee to investigate the purchase of the cars , but the findings of the panel which indicted the minister were not implemented.
The EFCC had in November interrogated five top officials of the NCAA over the N255m car scandal.
It was learnt that they were asked to write statements on their involvement in the scandal and thereafter asked a few questions.
A source had said, “The commission interrogated five top officials of the NCAA. But we will not stop with the NCAA, our investigators will also interrogate some officials of FAAN.”