Nigeria’s Aviation Ministry has reportedly decided to go after one of its officials on the suspicion that he was the one that leaked the information on the purchase of two luxury armored vehicles for the private use of its Minister, Stella Oduah.
At a press conference in Abuja on Friday, Folayele Akinkuotu, the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the agency implicated in the purchase of the two vehicles for $1.6 million (or N255 million) gave the hint that the “whistle blower” was being sought by the ministry.
Mr. Akinkuotu stated that “Nicholas Edwards”, a member of staff of the ministry who allegedly leaked the information to journalists, was on the run. He also condemned the leak that exposed the purchase of the two armored cars.
In an attempt to further justify the purchase of the vehicles, Mr. Akinkuotu described the two cars as operational vehicles. He also stated that transporting the Minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries was part of this operation.
“It is internationally customary to convey our Minister and these visiting foreign dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria,” he said. “It must be noted that during such visitations, the security of members of the delegations is the sole responsibility of the host country. The vehicles are therefore in the pool of the NCAA for these special assignments and are available at NCAA office and can be shown to you.”
Mr. Akinkuotu further said that the purchase of the two cars was not the first time his agency had procured high security vehicles for the purposes stated above, but failed to provide any details of previous transactions, their cost, or why two new vehicles were required at this time.
Motor vehicle sources in the US and the UK indicate that each of the cars should be priced between $167,000 and $200,000.
Ms. Oduah has come under the relentless scrutiny of the civil society while commentators are calling for her to be fired. Anti-Corruption Network and Human Rights attorney, Femi Falana, is also threatening to file a civil suit on Monday morning.
It was revealed recently that Ms. Oduah compelled the NCAA, a cash strapped agency under her supervision, to procure the cars for her with public funds in a case that has made Nigerians cry foul, more particularly as most of the blame for the most recent air disaster, resulting in the loss of fourteen lives, lie with the ministry in question.