Sunday, October 20, 2013

Press Release: Aviation N255m car scandal: Why Pres. Jonathan Should Sell Armored Cars---SERAP

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability
Project (SERAP) has issued a public appeal to President Goodluck
Jonathan to "urgently order the sale of the two armored BMW cars
reportedly bought with funds from the Aviation Ministry, and to use
the accrued funds to provide compensation to families of victims of
recent air accidents and use part of the funds to set up a Trust Fund
to jump-start genuine reform of the aviation industry."
The organization said that, "Selling the cars as proceeds of
corruption and using the funds to pay compensation to families of
victims of persistent air accidents would also have the great
additional benefit of reining in endemic corruption in the sector as
perpetrators would know that they would not be allowed to profit from
their crime."
The organization also asked the president "to publicly assure
Nigerians that the whistleblower that leaked the information of the
two BMW armoured cars bought for the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella
Oduah, will be fully protected from any harassment, intimidation or
persecution by the authorities."
The organization said it would offer "free legal services to ensure
full protection and safety of the whistleblower in line with
international standards. We appeal to the whistleblower to get in
touch with our organization, and assure whoever this may be our full
support and confidentiality. The whistleblower should be celebrated
and not persecuted."
In a public appeal dated 20 October 2013 and signed by SERAP executive
director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, "The reported
diversion of $1.6 million (N255 million) to pay for two cars by
someone that should normally be the number one safety official in the
aviation ministry illustrates the level of corruption in the sector,
and explains why people's lives have been repeatedly messed with by
those entrusted with air safety and security in the country's aviation
According to the organization, "The cost in human lives of this
diversion of critical funds is incalculable, and the president can no
longer continue to treat this as normal as corruption in the aviation
industry continue to cause so much suffering and misery for millions
of families across the country."
"As the overall supervisor and boss of the Aviation Ministry,
President Jonathan should now show leadership not only by ensuring
full accountability in this case but also making sure that the
management of the Ministry is fully compliant with anti-corruption
legislation and treaties that Nigeria has ratified, and to proactively
ensure the full implementation of these laws and treaties for the sake
of safety of millions of Nigerians who daily travel through our
airports," the organization also said.
According to the organization, "This report of corruption and
mismanagement in the Aviation Ministry is not just an isolated
incident but shows a complete lack of transparency and accountability
in the aviation industry that starts from the very top. Diversion of
critical funds from the Aviation Ministry for personal use has
unarguably made the aviation sector unsafe, messed with people's lives
and brought so much suffering and misery to many families and the
public in general."
The organization said that, "A corrupt Aviation Ministry clearly will
lack the moral authority to effectively carry out important oversight
functions or to ensure due diligence regarding the registration and
operation of aircraft with safety concerns."
"Without addressing corruption in the aviation industry the country
will continue to struggle to meet global standards in the sector. In
this respect, the president should ask anticorruption agencies and
civil society to monitor the spending by Ministry of Aviation on
everything from airport safety to fleet maintenance and pilot training
and certification," the organization added.
"This diversion constitutes a serious breach of the Independent
Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act and
the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state
party. High ranking corruption in the Ministry can only continue to
make the aviation sector unsafe for Nigerians and thus exacerbate the
increasing level of violation of the citizens' human right to life and
to security and dignity of the person," the organization also said.
The organization further said that, "The endemic corruption within the
aviation industry exposes the Achilles' heel of this government
supposed people-oriented agenda for economic reform and development."
Adetokunbo Mumuni
SERAP Executive Director
Lagos Nigeria

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