From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
Fresh trouble looms once again for the former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, as indications have emerged that the Presidency is taking a look into financial transactions carried out at agencies in the Aviation ministry during the period when the former minister held sway.
It emerged yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan may have approved the immediate suspension from office of the Director, Legal Services of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mark Jacob, following mind-boggling allegations of corruption allegedly perpetuated by him in active collaboration with Oduah.
Princess Oduah was sacked from office early this year by President Jonathan, following allegation of over-inflated cost in the purchase of bullet-proof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The House of Representatives declared the purchase illegal on the grounds that it was not captured in the 2013 Budget.
Mark Jacob was a former National Legal Adviser of the PDP and one time commissioner for Justice in Kaduna State and was also the Special Assistant, Legal to Princess Oduah in the Ministry of Aviation.
Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka was said to have got the nod of the Presidency, to effect the suspension following what was suggested as concrete evidence that Jacob, as Director in-charge of FAAN’s legal department was linked to controversial award of contracts and forceful take-over of some concessions that exposed the government to several court actions and unnecessary financial expenditure.
The suspension from office of Jacob therefore, is a confirmation that the embattled former minister, who is planning to contest for the Senate is not yet off the hook over the myriads of corruption allegations against her.
Only recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said investigations of allegation of corrupt practices against Oduah as minister of Aviation was still on-going, stressing: “Her matter is not closed. She has been invited; officials of major parastatals in that ministry have also been invited to make statements.”
Jacob’s alleged acts of commission and omission that exposed the federal government to ridicule presently being investigated include the renovation of the airports that so far cost the government billions of Naira.
It was gathered that the contracts were not captured in the 2011 budget, nor were they bided for, just as there was no mechanism put in place for any evaluation.
When contacted, the Special Assistant to Princess Odua, Joe Obi referred our correspondent to the spokesman of FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, saying that since the issues are more related to FAAN, Dati should be able to speak on all the issues.
However, when contacted, Mr. Dati described it as a non-issue, affirming that nothing of sort took place; “l am just hearing that from you” was what he told our correspondent.