The Federal Ministry of Finance on Thursday said it did not grant any waiver for the importation of the N255m bulletproof cars purchased by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah.
The disclosure is coming 24 hours after the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation was informed that the ministry and the office of the National Security Adviser were made to believe that the vehicles were for the 18th National Sports Festival (Eko Games 2012), which was hosted by Lagos State.
In a statement issued and made available to our correspondent on Thursday, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the waiver was granted only to the Lagos State Government and not for the purchase of the controversial armoured cars
The statement signed by the Special Adviser (Communications) to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, described claims that the ministry granted a waiver to Coscharis Motors Nigeria Limited for the purchase of armoured cars as “totally false and without foundation.”
The statement read in part, “On June 23, 2012, the Lagos State Government applied for a waiver of destination inspection charges and duty exemptions for Coscharis Motors Nigeria Limited, the official automobile partner for the National Sports Festival (Eko 2012), to purchase 300 vehicles on its behalf for the event.
“Since the Lagos State Government met the laid down criteria, the waiver was granted. It is also important to clarify that the waiver granted to the Lagos State Government for the event did not include the purchase of armoured vehicles.”
Also, the Nigeria Customs Service in a statement issued on Thursday, said its role in the car scandal was to implement the waiver granted for the importation of the 300 vehicles.
The statement signed by the Deputy Public Relations Officer, NCS, Joseph Attah, however, stated that the N10.13m import duty was meant only for three bulletproof cars and not for the 300 vehicles.
The statement read in part, “We wish to clarify that at no time did we say that the Federal Ministry of Finance granted a waiver to Coscharis Motors for the purpose of armoured cars. However, it should be noted that out of the 300 vehicles granted waiver, 25 units were BMW (7 Series). During the clearance process, three were discovered to be bulletproof cars, which statutorily require end user certificates.
“Coscharis got it from the Office of the National Security Adviser and presented same to Customs to facilitate the clearance.
“Also to be noted is the fact that the N10.13m that should have been paid is only for the three bulletproof cars and not for 300 vehicles as erroneously reported by some media outfits.”
The statement added that the role of the NCS was to implement the waiver duly granted for the importation of the 300 vehicles, adding that it requested and got the end user certificate clearance of the three bulletproof cars before they were released.