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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Alison-Madueke's N10b Private Jet Saga: Reps Secure Travel Logs of Minister’s Plane

Diezani Alison-Madueke
The travel logs of the jet chartered by Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke are now in possession of members of the House of Representatives as they prepare to launch their probe of the N10 billion allegedly spent by her on the plane.
The logs, The Nation authoritatively gathered, cover the minister’s trips to China, South Africa, United States and United Arab Emirates.
There are also indications that the House may demand movement logs of the Challenger jet from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA); and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
One of the parastatals under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has been fingered in the hiring and payment for the jet.
Upset by the media attention generated by what many Nigerians see as waste of public funds, the minister has suspended a foreign trip with President Goodluck Jonathan to prepare her defence for the House of Representatives.
Investigations in Abuja showed that some representatives have obtained travel logs of the minister which they intend to present to the Public Accounts Committee for verification from FAAN, NAMA and NCAA.
A reliable source said the fact-sheet available to some members indicated that the average cost of a trip on the jet was about $300,000.
It was also learnt that the parastatatal in question maintains the jet with $500,000 per month.
The source said: “This probe is a result of painstaking efforts by some members in the last one year. Some of these members, including those from PDP in the House, have secured the travel logs of the minister to and from Nigeria.
“For instance, she had been to China, South Africa, United States, the UK and the United Arab Emirates with the jet. At a point, the jet was relocated to Ghana when controversy arose on the jet in August last year.
“Even if FAAN, NAMA and NCAA decide not to release the records of movement of the Challenger Jet, these countries will oblige the House of Representatives. Also, the leasing company is foreign owned, it cannot hide the records if it wants to remain in business.”
Another source said: “We have identified some issues for Diezani as follows:
• What informed the hiring of the jet?
• Why will the parastatal be paying for the jet?
• Why will the minister travel in a private jet while on the delegation of the president to some countries?
• Assuming that the hiring of the jet was due to exigencies, what informed the extension of the privilege to members of her family as was the case during the 2013 Easter Break trip to Dubai in UAE?
“We are not after the person of the minister but we want probity in government. We won’t allow a serving public officer use the public treasury for personal purpose.
“And what we are doing is not new because a group, Crusaders for Good Governance (CGG), sent a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the same issue last year.”
But the probe has caused anxiety in the presidency following recurring scandals trailing cabinet members.
A source in government said: “The presidency is worried that the series of probes targeted at ministers might be attempts to bring down the government by some forces.
“We are waiting for the investigative process and how it will go. The government will certainly pay keen interest on the probe.”
Mrs. Alison-Madueke has already suspended an overseas trip with President Jonathan to her enable prepare her defence for the House of Representatives.
A source close to her said: “The minister is just upset with the allegation, she decided to cancel her schedule abroad to clear her image. She believes the allegations are too grave to ignore.
“She is already preparing her defence; she has devoted the weekend to do this. The minister has told everyone around her that there is a total misconception and misplacement of facts and purely an act of political blackmail against this administration
“By the time she is through with the facts and figures, Nigerians will know the truth. She was seriously upset that some people are personalizsing the issue. She said the figures they are quoting were exaggerated; when the Minister opens up, it will be revealing too.”

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