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“No Waiver Was Granted For Those Bulletproof Cars”- Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala



A melodrama however played out in the House of Representatives when the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, testified before the House committee on aviation on Monday. The committee is investigating the purchase of the bulletproof cars by the NCAA.

Okonjo-Iweala testified on the nature of duty exemption she granted for the purchase of vehicles for the “EKO 2012 Games” hosted by the Lagos State Government. Coscharis Motors, which imported the bulletproof cars, had claimed that it got a waiver from the Ministry of Finance.

However, the Nigeria Customs Service later lifted the lid on the issue, by explaining that the waiver was used as a cover to import the bulletproof cars. It said the waiver was for 300 vehicles imported for the games. The panel, which is headed by Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, had summoned the Finance minister to clarify the waiver granted to Coscharis.

The minister had kept the committee waiting for three hours before she arrived the venue at about 1.50pm. She went straight to Onyejeocha and they whispered to each other for a few seconds. When she took a seat to address the committee, Onyejeocha made excuses for her.

The committee chairman said that Okonjo-Iweala would only spend a few minutes as she would be attending another meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at 2pm. She also tried to limit the number of questions Okonjo-Iweala would answer to three.


This development caused a crack among members of the committee as some of them protested over the limit placed on questions. For nearly five minutes, an argument ensued over how to hear the minister. Onyejeocha, who read a scripted introductory remarks, also raced through the text in a stammered tone.

Okonjo-Iweala continuously shook her head as she watched the drama unfolding before her. When there was some calm, she addressed the committee, denying that she granted a waiver for the importation of the bulletproof cars. According to her, on June 23,2012, the Lagos State Government applied for waivers for “300 assorted vehicles” in favour of Coscharis Motors for the games.

She explained that because the request met the conditions for granting duty exemptions, it was approved.

However, she noted that there were no bulletproof cars on the list.

The minister said, “What I know is that on the list, there was no mention of bulletproof cars.


“So, no waiver was granted for those (bulletproof) cars.”

She explained that the waiver (for Eko Games) could be granted under the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, which Nigeria was a signatory to.

The committee observed that the value of the 300 cars should have been between $18m and $19m but that her office put the cost at $14m.

Lawmakers argued that this calculation could have drastically affected the amount payable on the vehicles if duty was to be paid.

In response, the minister said the revenue department of the ministry usually calculated the duty payable on such imports.


She said the department did the calculation and ascertained the value of the cars correctly.

When asked to confirm whether the transaction passed a due process test, she referred the committee to “appropriate procurement laws, where there are provisions to answer your question.”

Attempts to ask further questions were subsequently blocked by Onyejeocha.

She said that the minister was invited to speak on waivers only and having done so, she should be allowed to go.

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