Sunday, November 10, 2013

N255m car scandal: Stella Oduah avoids Aso Rock

Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah
Since the controversy over the N255m bulletproof cars bought for her by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency started, Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, has been avoiding the Presidential Villa, SUNDAY PUNCH can authoritatively report.
Oduah, who is seen as one of the closest ministers to President Goodluck Jonathan, had been a regular face in the seat of power since her inception as minister up until the scandal broke out.
Apart from the weekly Federal Executive Council meetings, which she attends religiously on Wednesdays, the embattled minister is also known for attending meetings and consulting from time to time with the President.
Since the controversy started, Oduah has only been seen publicly in the Presidential Villa once.
That was when she attended the FEC meeting on Wednesday.
Before that time, Oduah was said to have sneaked into the Villa on October 18 to give a verbal explanation to the President on the car scandal.
She was absent at the FEC meeting of October 23 when she was said to have travelled ahead of Jonathan to Israel in preparation for the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries. FEC meeting did not hold on October 30.
On her arrival for the FEC meeting on Wednesday, the embattled minister managed to exchange pleasantries with a few of her colleagues as she found her way to her seat on the left of the President.
She remained calm up until the meeting started and journalists were asked to excuse them.
She had arrived the venue of the meeting at about 9:45am ahead of the 10am kick-off time.
Apparently trying to avoid journalists, Oduah left the premises after the meeting in the official car of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim.
Sensing that State House correspondents might be waiting to engage her on the scandal,  Oduah quickly engaged Anyim in a discussion as both of them stepped out of the Council Chambers venue of the weekly meeting.
She walked with the SGF to where his Sport Utility Vehicle was parked in the forecourt of the presidential villa, from where both of them were driven away.
It was not clear whether they left the Villa together or she later joined her aides who were waiting for her with her car at the other end of the Villa.
Jonathan had set up a three-man administrative panel to probe the minister at the peak of public outcries that trailed the purchase of the bulletproof cars.
The panel, which is chaired by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Isa Bello, also has the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere (retd.) as members.
In announcing the establishment of the committee, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had said members were expected to, among other things, ascertain whether the procurement of the vehicles followed due process, ascertain the purpose of procurement and inquire into any other incidental matter.
Source: Punchng


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