President Goodluck Jonathan in response to public outcry over the two BMW 760 Li Series armoured cars purchased by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) allegedly for controversial Minister of Aviation, Stella Odua, at a princely cost of N225 million has ordered a probe of the purchase.
News of the purchase of the cars has caused outrage as Nigerians have rise to roundly condemn the alleged excesses. For instance, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), through its President, Balami David, on Tuesday condemned the action of the minister, saying the scandal has further exposed the country to scorn from the international community.
Only on Tuesday, the House of Representatives also directed its Committee of Aviation to conduct a probe especially because the funds for the cars was not included in appropriations for the ministry.
Jonathan set up a three-man committee headed by the immediate past Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Sali Bello Isa with the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere as members to investigate the matter.
The Presidential order to probe the embattled minister, came as protesters for and against the embattled minister nearly engaged each other in a brawl.
In a statement by Dr. Reuben Abati, Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to President Jonathan, the committee known Administrative Panel of Inquiry, was constituted considering the “weight of the allegation.” The committee, Wednesday’s statement added, has two weeks to submit its report.
Abati stated that the president is determined to ensure that the truth regarding the purchase is unveiled, saying, “the President assure the general public that nobody no matter how highly placed will be shielded from this enquiry.”
The Panel is charged to look into the procurement process of the cars, to ascertain the purpose for which the cars were purchased and any other relevant issues.
In a related development, former House of Reps member and the Executive Director, Anti-Corruption Network, Hon. Dino Melaye, was arrested Wednesday afternoon by police in Abuja and whisked away.
Melaye was taken away in a Police Toyota Hilux van, with registration number NPS 21280 at about 1pm over a protest calling for the removal of the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, over the N225million armoured car scandal.
The protest, which brought business activities to a halt at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, saw a counter pro-Oduah supporters protest.
The police led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Metro, Sunday Olukoya, allowed the pro-Oduah protesters to leave, but stopped the bus conveying Melaye supporters, declaring that they were under arrest.
Melaye in a protest against his arrest said: “When the police pension fund was stolen, we protested on behalf of the police; we were not arrested. When we protested against the theft of fuel subsidy fund, we were not arrested.
“Now that we are protesting the theft of the nation’s money by the action of the minister, who used Nigeria’s money to buy armoured cars in the midst of lack, we are under arrest. The money was not budgeted for, not appropriated.
“The protest affects everybody; the police are also affected because they are taxpayers. I’m also a taxpayer.”