Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Minister of Aviation BMW Car Scandal: Coscharis Opens Up At The Reps Panel
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday said that the Federal Ministry of Finance granted a waiver of N10.1 million to Coscharis Motors for the purchase of the two BMW cars by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The NCS told the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation investigating the alleged importation of the cars by the NCAA for the Minister of Aviation Ms Stella Oduah that the said waiver was to import 300 vehicles, including the controversial two BMW cars.
Representative of the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Mr Manasseh Jatau, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, disclosed this in his presentation at the public hearing of the case on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the point of entry of the cars was Tincan Port in Lagos, adding that no import duty was collected from the owner of the goods (Coscharis Motors) as a one-year duty waiver for 300 cars was granted in the name of the company for importation of cars for Eko 2012 Games in Lagos.
Jatau said the exemption on the two BMW cars along with 298 others was at the expense of the Lagos State Government, who would have been the beneficiaries of the payment.
Documents presented to the committee by the NCS showed that the Import Duty, VAT, ETLS, CISS and Port Charges Waiver Certificate was issued by the Ministry of Finance on Nov. 20, 2012.
The document was signed by the Director of Revenue, Mrs Rose Ngozi-Maranzu, on behalf of the finance minister.
Jatau also disclosed that contrary to earlier reports, the Office of the National Security Adviser duly issued an approval for the purchase of the armoured cars.
He said a signed copy of a pre-shipment inspection end-user certificate issued by the NSA on June 6, 2013, showed that due approval was gotten from the office for Coscharis Motors to import three armoured cars valued at 223,653.48 dollars into Nigeria for commercial purposes.
The document, identified as “Form A’’, had the stamp of the Office of the National Security Adviser appended on it.
Members of the Committee were engaged, for over 30 minutes, in a heated argument with Coscharis Motors in a move to ascertain the market price of the vehicles.
While the committee insisted that the current price of the vehicle should not exceed N50 million each, Coscharis outrightly refuted this position, saying it could never be the case with BMW B7 series anywhere in the world.
Coscharis, represented by the company’s Chairman Mr Cosmos Maduka, alleged that the NCAA demanded an increase in the prices of the controversial vehicles over what the company had submitted earlier.
“NCAA told us that the initial price is not proper,” Maduka, said.
He also said the cars were sold to NCAA as used vehicles following the delay encountered when the company sought clearance from the office of the NSA.
But the committee insisted that Coscharis deceived the public and the government by saying that the cars were bought for NCAA when actually they were purchased on behalf of the Lagos State Government.
The committee also accused the company of ripping Nigerians off.
According to the committee, the change in the prices of the vehicles from the initial N70 million to N127.5 million, even when the company had admitted that it got waiver from the government not to pay customs duties on the cars, cast aspersion on the company’s position on the prices.
NAN also reports that the hearing later took a dramatic turn when the committee discovered that the company supplied different make and type of vehicles.
A member of the committee and spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, said that the chassis number of one of the vehicles inspected by a delegation from the committee read DW68011.
He argued that the number differed from what Coscharis gave in their correspondences with the office of the NSA.
But in a swift response, Maduka refuted this, quoting the chassis numbers as 68044 and 68432, respectively.
He, however, promised to send the certificate issued by the NSA for the purchase of the cars to the committee.
Earlier, the company had requested to play a video to demonstrate how exotic the cars were in a bid to justify the prices, but the request was turned down by the committee.
Also the former Acting Director-General of NCAA, Mr Joyce Nkemakolam told the Committee that he approved a leasing agreement rather than a loan, with First Bank Plc on the purchase of the cars because of an advice he received from his colleagues.
A member of the committee, Rep. Raphael Nnanna-Igbokwe had asked why the NCAA insisted on going on with the leasing agreement after being informed by First Bank Plc that it was not disposed to leasing facility but loan facility.
“I signed the agreement based on advice from my colleagues that leasing and loan facilities are the same. I thought the templates are the same,’’ Nkemakolam said.
But Committee was shocked when the acting Director-General said though as the Chief Executive Officer during the period under investigation, he was not aware of the details of the delivery of the two vehicles.