Even as the minister of aviation began a new spin today that the BMW armored cars purchased by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for her use were done on "hire-purchase", SaharaReporters has unearthed new details about the $1.6 million spent by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to purchase the armored BMW cars for Nigeria's Aviation Minister Stella Oduah.
A highly reliable source has told SaharaReporters that the shady deal for the car was done entirely between Coscharis Motors Limited, a dealership from which the cars were purchased, one of Ms. Oduah’s private firms based in Abuja, and First Bank of Nigeria. SaharaReporters had revealed the account number at the First Bank into which the monies were paid on behalf of the NCAA.
“The NCAA was not even aware of the deal until the minister told them to sign that they had received two BMW cars,” said our source.
After inking the deal, Coscharis Motors, sellers of the highly inflated automobiles, reportedly gave the Aviation Minister more than N112 million as kickbacks. Our source added that Cosmas Maduka, who owns Coscharis Motors, pocked N60 million for each of the two BMW cars.
An official at the NCAA corroborated the information that the agency was largely kept in the dark about the transaction. “We were never privy to the transaction and had not seen the cars even though our head of transport was made to sign the delivery note,” said the source. The agency is under the Ministry of Aviation.
The source added that the agency has still not seen the cars even after the scandal escalated. SaharaReporters was first to break the news that Ms. Oduah compelled a cash-strapped NCAA to pay for two extravagantly priced bullet-proof BMWs for her personal use. After initially denying our reports, the minister’s spokesman, Joe Obi, admitted that the transaction transpired. Mr. Obi alleged that the purchase was justified because of unspecified threats to the minister’s life. Neither Mr. Obi nor the minister has provided proof of any threats to Ms. Oduah. The minister has not addressed why the NCAA paid a price tag that auto dealers in the US and the UK described as a rip-off. US dealers said that each of the BMW cars should cost no more than $$167,000.
Last week, an official of the NCAA, Fola Akinkuotu, spoke to the media and defended the purchase of the cars. Mr. Akinkuotu said the cars were for the ministry’s protocol pool for use in transporting foreign aviation dignitaries when they visit Nigeria. His explanation conflicted with the original statement by the minister’s spokesman, Mr. Obi. A source at the NCAA disclosed that Mr. Akinkuotu felt tricked into facing the media on the scandal. “He had been told he would only appear beside the embattled minister, who was supposed to speak. Instead, he was asked to speak,” said the source.
Meanwhile, a source at the Presidency said President Goodluck Jonathan was unfazed about the fraud perpetrated by Ms. Stella Oduah, his Aviation Minister. Ms. Oduah and the late former National Security Advisor, General Owoye Azazi, had played significant roles in raising and disbursing money to rig the 2011 presidential elections for Mr. Jonathan. Mr. Jonathan will depart Abuja tomorrow on a weeklong pilgrimage to Isreal.
However, SaharaReporters learnt that several ministers and diplomats have registered their displeasure at Mr. Jonathan’s continued retention of Ms. Oduah on his cabinet.