Group petitions Buhari, alleges $20m fraud in aviation college
• NCAT denies claims
An advocacy group, Transparency Initiative, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged rot in the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, leading to a $20million (N6billion plus) fraud.
The petition, jointly signed by three legal practitioners: Nnaemeka Amaechina, George Nwahajioke, and Taiwo Adegbite, raised an alarm that the College was deviating from its statutory role, function and the legacy left behind by the founding fathers.
But responding immediately, the College faulted the claims, describing them as untrue and malicious.
Transparency Initiative claimed that the Aviation College has become the beacon of corruption and financial impropriety in recent years, warning that if urgent measures were not taken by concerned authorities to halt it, the College might be heading to doldrums.
The president’s attention was drawn to an allegedly illegally awarded contract and eventual splitting of same for re-fleeting of trainer aircraft, worth over $20 million, awarded to a certain company located in Lagos.
It also claimed that the contract, as at that time, had no Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) approval and the “Certificate of No Objection”, as required by due process was not obtained.
“As at the time of award of this contract, which is November 17, 2014, the said company had not been registered and its address on the contract document looked fictitious.
“The BPP initially refused to grant NCAT certificate of no objection to proceed with this project because the 2014 Appropriation Act made only N400, 000 provision for re-fleeting of NCAT aircraft and for two engines specifically.
“The credibility, history, track record and financial strength of the eventual awardee of the contract were queried,” the petition highlighted.
On that note, the group argued that for a contract that involved such a huge amount of money to have been awarded without due process, was nothing but illegality, pointing out that there was no Federal Executive Council approval for the initial payment to the company, as at December, 2014.
The petitioners, through the letter copied the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of State for Aviation, Abubakar Hadi Sirika, urged Buhari to employ its investigative apparatus to further verify all their claims and those involved in the financial indecency.
They added: “Your Excellency, we urge you, in your usual tradition, to use your good offices to order a total investigation of facts contained in this petition by the appropriate government agencies and ensure that those found culpable are brought to book.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of NCAT, Mohammed Balarabe-Abubakar, however, denied all the allegations, describing them as false.
Balarabe said the College is not unaware of an earlier advertorial by the group, alleging deterioration of standard in NCAT and lack of due procedure in its contracts awards.
He said as far as the said contract is concerned, it followed the procedure laid down by the BPP, but declined further comments, citing official procedure in responding to petitions in the civil service.