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Stella Oduah, Others Still Under Investigation – EFCC

Stella Oduah, Others Still Under Investigation – EFCC
Former minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that all those involved in the controversial purchase of N255m bulletproof cars by the Nigerian Aviation Civil Authority, including the sacked Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, were still being investigated.

A source at the EFCC, who made this known to The Punch on Thursday in Abuja, said the outcome of the investigation would determine those to be prosecuted.

“We are progressing in the investigation into the scandal and I can assure you that anyone who is found culpable will be prosecuted; just wait and see,” he stated.

The source spoke just as the Trade Union Congress, the Campaign for Democracy, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, the Nigerian Voters’ Assembly, Civil Society Network Against Corruption and human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu,insisted that Oduah must be made to face trial for corruption.

The EFCC had late last year interrogated the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. George Uriesi; the Director General of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, Mr. Nnamdi Udoh, and the Director General, NCAA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, over the scandal.

The Managing Director of Coscharis Motors Limited, Josiah Samuel, whose firm supplied the bulletproof cars, and officers of First Bank Plc were also quizzed.

When contacted on Thursday, the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the commission was still investigating the scandal.

Uwujaren faulted claims that the agency had stopped investigation into the scandal which many believed was responsible for Oduah’s removal by President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.

“We have been on the matter. The investigation is going on. At the end of the investigation, the commission will do the appropriate thing. “ he told one of our correspondents in Abuja.

The EFCC spokesman had last month dismissed a 14-day ultimatum given to the commission by a civil rights group, Say No Campaign.

He had said, “The investigation into the issue is going on; Who is stopping it? Look, there is nothing like delay. There is no delay.”

Say No Campaign had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the anti-graft agency to arrest and prosecute Oduah because of the car scandal.

But on Thursday, the TUC, CD, CACOL, NVA and Aturu lauded Odual’s removal but noted however that it was long overdue.

The President of TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Oduah’s removal was “democracy in action.”

Kaigama said, “ The President has the power to hire and fire. Nigerians are now watchdogs. All appointees should know that if they misbehave and don’t work in accordance with the oath of their office, nemesis will catch up with them.”

The President of the CD, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said Oduah’s removal was a welcome development.

She added, “It is a welcome development, although belated. At last, the right thing has been done by dropping her as a minister following her indictment over the car purchase. Her sacking should communicate some messages to public officials.

“The EFCC must do the needful so as to halt impunity that has become a recurring decimal in our polity.”

The Executive Chairman, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said Jonathan should do “more purging” of his cabinet.

He advised “the anti-graft agencies to prosecute Oduah for the corrupt practices perpetrated while she was in office.”

Also, the President of the NVA , Mr. Moshood Erubami, said that Oduah’s removal was not an end but a means to achieving an end that would correct noticeable wrongs in government.

Erubami stated, “The President knows why he moved swiftly against Dr. Bamanga Tukur, who was the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) Chairman in order not to rock the boat of his second term desire.

“He also understands why he was relunctant on Stella Oduah despite her alleged indictment in the purchase of the bulletproof vehicles. He was just not forgetting the roles she played in his election in 2011 when she used the ‘Neighbour to Neighbour’ political slogan to mobilise people.”

He said that Oduah’s removal showed that the President could challenge those taking Nigeria backward.

Aturu, who described the delay in sacking Oduah as “exasperating”, said the anti-corruption agencies, especially the EFCC, must act fast on the former minister.

He said that Oduah’s belated sacking was not an indication that Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party were averse to corruption.

The rights activist said, “There is a need for the President during campaigns to say he has done one or two things about corruption. The delay in sacking Oduah was exasperating; it shows the President is not responsive to the people of this country.

“I think that the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies, especially the EFCC, will also see if she has to be prosecuted. The allegations against her should not be swept under the carpet.”

The Chairman, CSNAC , Mr. Lanre Suraj, shared Aturu’s view, saying the sacking of Oduah was not an indication that the President was ready to fight corruption.

“I think it is a welcome development even though it is belated. It also goes to show that the president is not committed to the fight against corruption,” he said.

He urged the EFCC to prosecute the sacked minister, as her sacking was calculated to give her a soft landing.

Suraj said, “The next thing is for the anti-corruption institutions, the EFCC especially to act, to prove to Nigeria that they are working.”

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