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Transcript Of The House Committee Hearing On Stella Oduah’s Armoured Car Purchase Scandal

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The House of Representatives committee on Aviation, concluded hearing on the purchase of two armoured cars for the aviation minister, Stella Oduah, for N255 million.

The hearing was adjourned from Wednesday, 30th of October, to allow the aviation Minister attend. The minister was expected at the Wednesday hearing but was absent because she was away in Israel for a bilateral air service agreement signing.

Unlike the earlier sitting, the embattled Minister was present, to offer her own account, and defend herself on this issue that so far, has generated intense reactions across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

PREMIUM TIMES’ National Assembly correspondent, Ini Ekott, documented updates as events unfolded in the hearing room. Read them below:

11:40

The minister has finally arrived at the venue of the hearing, 100 minutes after the hearing was scheduled to kick off. The lawmakers now setting up to start the hearing.

 

11:56

Stella Oduah, the aviation minister has just taken her seat before the committee. The hearing begins.

 

12:00

Hearing committee chairperson, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, gives her opening speech, explaining the delay in starting the hearing and that the committee would be just and fair.

Delay was because venue used for hearing on Wednesday had been taken over for a another hearing on Land racketeering.

“This committee is out to get to the bottom of the matter. But committee is not on ‘witch-hunting’”

 

12:06

Onyejeocha quips on the tense mood here. “We are not mourning, there is no aeroplane crash; I want to see everyone smiling,” she says. “Feel free and relax.”

The minister is about to be called upon to testify. She takes oath to say “nothing but the truth, the whole truth.”

 

12:10

Ms. Oduah starts by apologizing for inability to attend previous hearings. She said said her absence was not out of disrespect and thanks the committee for rescheduling her appearance.

 

12:17

Ms. Oduah says opportunity to appear will allow her give her side of the story. “For the past week, I have been bashed in the media, many have also risen to my defence.”

She said her spokesperson’s admission of the alleged purchase, while right on concerns for her safety, was “inaccurate”.

She goes ahead to say online publications that she compelled NCAA to purchase cars for her were “false and malicious” allegations. “False in its entirety!”

Says online allegations not substantiated but based on “erroneous” comment of her aide.

 

12:19

“It is not true, cannot be true that NCAA bought bullet proof vehicles for honourable minister of aviation. My understanding is that what NCAA has done is to plan for its vehicle needs for the next three years under the Medium Term Expenditure Framework,” — Stella Oduah

 

12:34

Oduah: NCAA has real needs for new operational vehicles. Insists armoured cars not meant for her but foreign dignitaries.

“NCAA acted within the ambit of law”.

“Nothing in the stated documents mentioned my name. I did not request for any vehicles. All I did was to approve the purchase, subject to the agency doing the needful(following the law). NCAA followed due process as required by law.”

“The Federal ministry of aviation under my watch has always ensured we act in a prudent manner and under the ambit of the law”-Stella Oduah

 

12:40

The aviation minister still rendering her opening remarks.

The “First Bank facility to NCAA to the tune of N643 million mere understanding not an obligation” she daid.

“Nigeria’s airspace is now rate among the safest in the world”. She adds that allegation about car purchase is meant to discredit her team and give the impression her effort at reforms is not succeeding.

NCAA has not spent any money not appropriated by the National Assembly. The agency has even saved the nation a cost and further embarrassment that may occur in future.

 

12:51

The minister’s initial presentation is over. She is now receiving questions from the lawmakers.

 

13:08

Minister insists NCAA did not exceed its limit or violate the law.

She is reminded by by Jerry Manwe (Taraba state) that the National Assembly rejected armoured cars in the budget which she is defending, the minister buckles: “NCAA will answer that,” she says.

Minister is pressed by Zakari Mohammed(Kwara state) why she exceeded her approval limit, she said her comment on the letter to NCAA was not final but advisory to NCAA to follow the law.

On the said letter, the minister wrote “Approved. Do the needful”.

Brief game on semantics here. Minister says “Do the needful” could mean anything”. But the lawmakers are not having that. NCAA is called to explain the “needful” it did. And the NCAA director general shirks to the former acting DG who was in charge then.

 

13:25

Blame briefly leaves the minister to officials of NCAA over “do the needful” directive. For a moment, lawmakers appear to agree with the minister the all-encompassing comment exonerates her. The former acting DG of NCAA is tackled for even initiating a memo to Odua for a purchase out of budget, and beyond approved limit.

 

13:08

Minister insists NCAA did not exceed its limit or violate the law.

She is reminded by by Jerry Manwe (Taraba state) that the National Assembly rejected armoured cars in the budget which she is defending, the minister buckles: “NCAA will answer that,” she says.

Minister is pressed by Zakari Mohammed(Kwara state) why she exceeded her approval limit, she said her comment on the letter to NCAA was not final but advisory to NCAA to follow the law.

On the said letter, the minister wrote “Approved. Do the needful”.

Brief game on semantics here. Minister says “Do the needful” could mean anything”. But the lawmakers are not having that. NCAA is called to explain the “needful” it did. And the NCAA director general shirks to the former acting DG who was in charge then.

 

13:25

Blame briefly leaves the minister to officials of NCAA over “do the needful” directive. For a moment, lawmakers appear to agree with the minister the all-encompassing comment exonerates her. The former acting DG of NCAA is tackled for even initiating a memo to Odua for a purchase out of budget, and beyond approved limit.

 

13:47

Jerry Manwe (Member) to minister: If the armoured cars were not for you as you claimed, who is using them now?

Former acting DG answers for minister: Any one can use any car in the pool

Manwe: Do you mean a cleaner can use those kind of cars?

Former DG: Anybody can use; but those kind of cars are for VIP movement, including foreign dignitaries, including the minister, and even you honourable member!

Manwe; Thank you. But the law of the country does not allow me to use those cars.

 

14:14

Attention has left the minister for more than half an hour. Lawmakers again tackle Coscharis over the disparity in chassis numbers of the cars.

A frustrated Chief Executive of Coscharis, Cosmas Maduka,makes it clear his company has nothing to hide as the committee would think. “We are not doing monkey business here,” he asserted. Mr Maduka was asked to withdraw the comment and he promptly complied.

 

14:22

Reps wrapping the hearing. Chairperson Onyejeocha said despite the testimonies from those invited since last week, the committee has received sufficient documents that will inform its report. “We have given everyone fair hearing,” she said.

“We assure everyone and all Nigerians we will do justice”.

 

14:25

Hearing Ends. Thanks for following our updates. Do stick around our site for the rest of the day as we will put the proceeding in their correct perspective for you.

 

Transcript by Ini Ekott of Premium Times

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Kano Transfers Over 1,000 Almajiris To Different States Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Kano State Government on Saturday said it has transferred 1,098 ‘almajiris’ to different states of the country.

The commissioner for local government, Murtala Garo, disclosed this while presenting a report before the state’s task force on COVID-19 at the government house, Kano.

Almajiris are children who are supposed to be learning Islamic studies while living with their Islamic teachers. Majority of them, however, end up begging on the streets of Northern Nigeria. They constitute a large number of Nigeria’s over 10 million out-of-school children.

Mr Garo said the Kano government transported 419 almajiris to Katsina, 524 to Jigawa and 155 to Kaduna. He said all of them tested negative for coronavirus before leaving the Kano State.

Despite the coronavirus test done in Kano for the almajiris, the Jigawa government earlier said it would quarantine for two weeks all the almajiris that recently arrived from Kano.

Mr Garo said another 100 almajiris scheduled to be taken to Bauchi State also tested negative to COVID-19.

In a remark, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said the COVID-19 situation in Kano was getting worse. He appealed for a collaborative effort to curtail the spread of the virus in the state.

Mr Ganduje, who commended residents for complying with the lockdown imposed in the state, said the decision was taken to halt the spread of the virus.

Kano State, as of Saturday night, has 77 coronavirus cases, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The decision to transfer the Kano almajiris is part of the agreement reached between Northern governors that almajiris in each state be transferred to their states of origin.

However, even before the latest agreement by the governors, the Kano government had been transferring almajiris to other states and neighbouring countries after it banned street begging in the state, most populous in Northern Nigeria.

Despite the transfers, however, no concrete step has been taken to ensure such children do not return to Kano streets as there is freedom of movement across Nigeria although interstate travel was recently banned to check the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Sourced From: Premium Times Nigeria

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COVID-19: ‘Bakassi Boys’ Foil Attempt To Smuggle 24 Women Into Abia In Container

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By Ugochukwu Alaribe

Operatives of the Abia State Vigilante Service, AVS, popularly known as ‘Bakassi Boys’ have arrested 24 market women hidden in a container truck, at Ekwereazu Ngwa, the boundary community between Abia and Akwa Ibom states.

The market women, said to be  from Akwa Ibom State, were on their way to Aba, when they were arrested with the truck driver and two of his conductors for violating the lockdown order by the state government.

Driver of the truck, Moses Asuquo, claimed he was going to Aba to purchase stock fish, but decided to assist the market women, because they were stranded.

A vigilante source told Sunday Vanguard that the vehicle was impounded while the market women were sent back to Akwa Ibom State.

Commissioner for Home Land Security, Prince Dan Okoli, who confirmed the incident, said that  smuggling of people into the state poses great threat to the state government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID- 19.

 

Sourced From: Vanguard News

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Woman Kills Her Maid Over Salary Request

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Operatives of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Yaba of the Lagos State police command have arrested one Mrs Nene Steve for allegedly killing her maid, Joy Adole

The maid was allegedly beaten to death by Nene for requesting for her salary at their residence located at 18, Ogundola Street, Bariga area in Lagos.

Narrating the incident, Philips Ejeh, an elder brother to the deceased said that he was sad when they informed him that his sister was beaten to death.

He explained that the deceased was an indigene of Benue State brought to Lagos through an agent and started working with her as a maid  in January 2020.

‘’She reported that her boss refused to pay her and anytime she asked for her salary she will start beating her.

She was making an attempt to leave the place but due to the total lockdown she remained there until Sunday when her boss said she caught her stealing noodles and this led to her serious beating and death,’’ Ejeh said.

He called on Lagos State Government and well- meaning people in the country to help them in getting justice for the victim.

The police spokesman, Bala Elkana, stated that the woman and her husband came to Bariga Police  Station to a report that their house girl had committed suicide.

Detectives were said to have visited the house and suspected foul play with the position of the rope and bruises all over the body which confirmed that the girl had been tortured to death and the boss decided to hang up the girl to make it look like suicide.

He said: “The police moved on with their investigation and found a lot of sign of violence on her body that she has been tortured before a rope was put on her neck.’’

He added that the police removed the corpse and deposited it in the mortuary for autopsy to further ascertain the cause of the death.

Elkana said the matter has been transferred from Bariga police station to Panti for further investigation while the couple have been arrested and will be charged to court.

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Boko Haram Attacks: Buhari Summons Urgent Meeting Of Service Chiefs

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President Buhari and the Service Chiefs in a meeting. (File photo)

Ostensibly alarmed by the latest killings of dozens of soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents, President Muhammadu Buhari has summoned an urgent meeting of Service Chiefs to find ways to stop the trend. 

He has also dispatched the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, to the neighbouring Republic of Chad for an urgent meeting with President Idris Deby and his defence counterpart. 

Knowledgeable sources said in Abuja on Friday that the president is worried by on the deterioration of security situation on the Nigeria – Chad Border that has led to the recently increased Boko Haram terrorism in the area.

The sources which did not want to be named in Abuja said: “Nigeria has a Chad  problem in the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) put together to secure the Lake Chad basin areas and repeal the Boko Haram terrorist attacks against all the countries neighbouring the Lake.”

The sources noted that Chad is believed to be having their own internal security challenges and this has reportedly led to their pulling away their own troops manning their own border around Lake Chad,  saying: “That lacuna is being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists, who go in and out of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon to launch terrorist acts.  This is a clear illustration of the fact that terrorism is beyond national borders.”

When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the Defence Minister is going to Chad but said he is unaware of the purpose. 

Meanwhile, the military authorities are said to be in the process of identifying the families of the latest victims with a view to making contact with them. 

Credible sources revealed that it is the reason the president is yet to make any pronouncement on the matter. 

“The President has called an urgent meeting with the Service Chiefs, as well as the fact that families of the latest victims of the Boko Haram are being identified and contacts made before a government pronouncement on the tragic attacks. This, it is understood, is the reason for the silence of the government over the incident,” the source said. 

 

Sourced From: Tribune

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