House of Reps hearing of Stella Oduah has started; she is absent

House of Reps hearing of Stella Oduah has started; she is absent

The House of Representatives committee on Aviation has begun hearing on the alleged purchase of two BMW cars for N255million for Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah. 

The hearing, proposed to start at noon, started 25 minutes later, PremiumTimes' National Assembly correspondent reports from the hearing room. However, Oduah is absent at the hearing: It has been reported she has been still on her way from Israel. The Committee directed her to appear before it tomorrow, Thursday, by 10 a.m.

The hearing had been earlier scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed to allow the Minister to return from Israel where she was to sign Bilateral Air Services Agreement with Israel.

Also, there has been information that the embattled Minister has been linked to another car purchase scandal. Reportedy, Oduah has also approved the procurement of two Lexus Limousine cars and two Toyota Prado jeeps. 

Jerry Manwe, a member of the Committee from Taraba State commented the absence of Oduah, saying:

By now, officials from the Nigeria Customs, First Bank and Coscharis have spoke. Details below:

After the hearing finally started, Nigerian Customs confirmed that the two cars were imported and cleared at Tin Can 2, but the import duty on the two cars, which should have been anout N10 million, were not paid because there was a waiver note issued by the Finance Ministry. 

Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, Manasa Daniel Jatau, stated:

The Customs representatives said Coscharis lied to the Ministry of Finance and NSA, making them to believe that the cars were for Lagos state government, for the National Sports festival. The NSA office issued End User certificate without knowing that it was doing so for cars to be delivered to Stella Oduah or the NCAA.

First Bank fails to explain why it granted a loan of N643 million instead of N564 million

Seyi Oyefeso, official of First Bank that oversaw the transaction addressed  the Committee on behalf of the Executive Director of the Bank.

As a result of a public tender, on 21 May, 2013, First Bank granted a loan facility of N643 million for purchase of assorted cars, Oyefeso said.

He further said that the armoured BMWs were not part of the first order from NCAA which comprised mainly Land Cruisers totaling less than N600 million.

House chair, Nkiruka Onyejeocha asked the bank if it could be so that the BMWs were an afterthought, on what Oyefeso replied that this was NCAA to answer.

First Bank, however, cannot explain how the loan given to NCAA for all its 54 cars climbed from earlier stated N564 to N643 million. Bank's official claimed the bank was only concerned about what the NCAA as a customer asked for, adding "Our job as financier are based on what the customers are asking for."

As First Bank asked to step aside, Coscharis chief, Cosmas Maduka, took over. Maduka calls the car scandal a "politically motivated" controversy. 

He said he was ready prepared to give details how Coscharis arrived at the price.

Coscharis admitted telling the Ministry of Finance/NSA the cars were meant for Lagos state government, but said the arrangement was a usual "sponsor practice" for an event like the sports festival.

The company insists it did not lie, saying that during events the company gives cars for use by government, in exchange for waivers that would be used for importing new ones as replacement. Coscharis said it price was right.

Lawmakers, however, have refuted that claim by revealing that the firm sent different prices to NCAA and NSA.

Coscharis also claimed the car in question goes for about N87.7 million (factory price) without tax, shipping etc. But a lawmaker has confirmed that he received a quotation from an American firm for the same car for about N42 million. 

Coscharis replied hat a seven series in America is different from what they got from Europe.

The House of Reps Committee says the cars they inspected yesterday, on Tuesday, are not the cars stated in the documents between NCAA and Coscharis. Specifically, the cars they saw had different chassis number.

But Coscharis said since it did not inspect the cars with the House members, it cannot say whether that was the car they delivered to NCAA. The firm insists it has done no wrong.

The Committee said it has received information that the Minister is on transit - likely from Israel - and will arrive Nigeria later today. Oduah has asked to appear Thursday afternoon, but the Committee said she has to be in attendance in the morning by 10am on Thursday as the Committee must complete its work on Thursday.


We will keep you updated... 

"The two cars were imported through Tin Can Port 2; Imported from Antwerp Netherlands. The vehicles were cleared 19/6/2013. Coscharis imported the cars without paying import duties since there was a waiver from the ministry of finance.

Coscharis obtained the waiver claiming the armoured cars were part of 300 vehicles imported for the Sports festival in Lagos last year, and therefore the beneficiary was Lagos state government. The due import duty should have been N10.1 million.

The cars had an End User Certificate from the NSA office in the name of Coscharis. The waiver obtained by Coscharis was for one year; as such the time of importation this year was covered.

Customs admit its laws requires that it enforces duty on any item for which waiver was obtained, which was not used for the purpose stated-in this case, for Sports festival."

Coscharis official: To the best of my knowledge, we followed all due process. We were interviewed by SSS. We were interviewed by the National Security Adviser. Every due process by law was followed. "We do business with morality," he adds.

Another Coscharis official: Armoured cars are in levels; Level B7 is the highest for any civilian/VIP armoured cars. 

Coscharis: The controversial cars are level B7. The BMW 760 series, bought by NCAA, goes for 418 thousand Euro from factory without shipping cost, taxes, etc.

"Your own bullet proof is not manufactured in the moon," Jerry Manwe ( a member), stated.


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