N255m Armoured Cars Scandal: FG sets up panel to investigate cars scandal; ...Stella Oduah jets off to Israel ahead of President Jonathan

Following public outrage that greeted the controversial purchase of N255 million bullet-proof vehicles for the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday set up a three-man administrative panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the purchase.

The embattled minister, who has already been summoned by the two chambers of the National Assembly to answer questions on her role in the purchase of the cars is reported to have summoned courage and flew to Israel on Tuesday, a day ahead of President Jonathan’s visit to the country, where he is expected to perform some spiritual rites and sign some bilateral deals.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati who announced the three-man committee to investigate the purchase also confirmed that the government has also queried the minister to explain her involvement in the purchase of the cars.

Abati further assured Nigerians that the President was committed to fighting corruption, saying that anybody found to have violated any laws in the purchase of the cars would not be shielded by the President.

The panel, to be chaired by former Head of Service, Alhaji Isa Sali Bello, has as members the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and AVM Dick Iruenebere (rtd). The committee is to submit its report within two weeks.

On whether the Minister will be asked to step aside while the panel carries out her investigation, Dr Abati said: “Well, I have just announced to you what I was asked to announce: that a panel of inquiry has been set up. This panel will address all the relevant questions and advise Mr. President accordingly within two weeks.”

While Mrs. Oduah is expected to submit her response to the query before President Jonathan returns from his Wednesday evening trip to Israel, the aviation minister is already in Israel.

Mr. Jonathan is travelling to Israel on a Christian pilgrimage and a state visit; and Mrs. Oduah is not officially listed on the President’s team that includes other ministers like those of agriculture and foreign affairs.

Mrs. Oduah was scheduled to be on the delegation but was dropped because of the car scandal. Her initial membership of the delegation was because aviation issues would be some of the most important topics of discussion between the Nigerian delegation and its Israeli counterpart. Mr. Jonathan is also expected to sign a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with the Israeli government as part of his state visit.
Who is fooling who, the so-called committee will deliberately take several months to come out with a report, that will exonerate the Minister.

'Oga at the Top' and madam bullet-proof will surely talk and laugh over this scandal while in Israel.

May God help rid this country of corruption!