The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has denied having any documents relating to the two BMW bulletproof cars it bought for the Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah.
The denial came two days after Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), gave seven days ultimatum to NCAA to supply his law firm with the information.
Falana’s request, dated October 21, 2013, was made on the strength of the provisions of the Freedom of information Act.
But a copy of the reply to the request dated October 23, 2013 by the NCAA Director-General, Mr. Fola Akinkuotu, was obtained by our correspondent on Sunday.
In his reply through the NCAA Legal Adviser, Mr. E.K Chukwuma, Akinkuotu also claimed not to have in the possession of the NCAA any documents relating to previous purchase of such cars.
The reply read, “I am directed to your letter dated October 21, 2013 on the above matter (Request for information on N255m armoured cars for Aviation Minister, Ms Stella Oduah) and to inform you that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is not in possession of any document relating to the purchase of the armoured cars for the Aviation Minister, Ms Stella Oduah.
“With regard to your request for records of previous purchase of armoured cars by the Aviation Ministry or NCAA, I am to inform you that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority does not have such records.”
But Falana, in a telephone chat with our correspondent on Sunday, said he was going to request the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute the NCAA DG.
He said, “Since copies of the documents on the Oduahgate are available the DG has wilfully violated the provisions of the FoI Act, I am sending a request to the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute him without any delay.
“Since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has commenced investigation pursuant to my petition, I am also forwarding the DG’s letter to the Commission for necessary action.”
Falana, had in his letter, written on his behalf by a lawyer in his law firm, Mr. Adedotun Isola-Osobu, asked Akinkuotu to supply his chamber with detailed information on the vehicles.
The SAN had predicated his request on the claim by Akinkuotu during a press conference on October 18, 2013, that the NCAA indeed bought the cars for the minister.
In his letter to the NCAA, Falana had asked Akinkuotu to supply records of previous purchase of such cars if indeed it was customary for the NCAA to purchase such cars for the aviation minister and visiting foreign dignitaries.
The letter read, “In your press conference at Abuja held on Friday, October 18, 2013 you did admit that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority actually bought the controversial armoured cars and that ‘it is customary to convey the minister and visiting dignitaries in security vehicles whenever they are in Nigeria.’
“In the light of your claim at the said press conference we are compelled to request you to make available to us certified true copies of the documents relating to the purchase of the cars, including budgetary approval and due process for the entire transaction.
“Since you claimed that it is customary to purchase such cars for aviation minister and visiting foreign dignitaries you are also requested to provide the records of previous purchase of armoured cars by the aviation ministry or the NCAA.
“Take notice that you are mandatorily required to supply the requested information within seven days of the receipt of this letter by virtue of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.”
The NCAA had admitted to have spent a whopping $1.6m (N255m) on the two cars. The purchase of the cars had since ignited calls for the removal of the aviation minister.