Group petitions Gbajabiamila, demands full disclosure of cost of 400 exotic cars
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Kingdom Human Right Foundation International on Thursday formally requested relevant contract documents on the procurement of the controversial 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars for members of the House of Representatives.
The petition dated 24th February 2020 which was in pursuance to section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, was addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The group in the petition signed by Mr. Okere Nnamdi demanded for ‘Certified true copy of the contract for the supply of 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars for the house of representatives’; ‘Certified true copy of the resolution was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020’; and ‘Evidence of payment and bank transaction for the supply of the 400 2020 Toyota Camry cars between the House of Representatives and the company supplying the cars indicating the ACTUAL COST for each of the 400 cars’.
“Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International (KHRFI ) is a non-governmental organization that promotes human rights, freedom, and justice, champion the fight against corruption, good governance, accountability and rule of law in Nigeria. As a non-governmental organisation, KHRFI achieves her aim and objectives through independent monitoring, investigation, and evaluation of the extent of compliance with accountability, due process, transparency and rule of law and law tackling corruption and corrupt practices in public offices through seeking judicial interpretation in matters of public interest in Nigeria.
“We are reputed to have instituted several public interests and anti-corruption cases against several government and private institutions in pursuit of our objective of transparency, rule of law and corrupt-free public institutions in Nigeria.
“Independent investigation conducted by our organisation indicated wide corruption, contract scam, criminal over -inf1ation of contract sum/actual cost of each of the 400 vehicles to be purchased by the House of Representatives.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the resolution of the House of Representatives was reached at an executive (closed-door) session held on February 5, 2020, you resolved to purchase 400 exotic cars. Our investigation indicates that the House of Representatives under your leadership is relying on the corruptly over-inflated price of the 2019 model, corruptly put at N26.75m and N35.751n (for V6 engine) to reap off public funds, under the guise that the 2020 model is expected to be costlier.
Also, a check on the website of Toyota showed that the price of the car, depending on the variants, is between $25,000 (N9,000,000 at N360 to a dollar) and $35,000 (N 12,600,000), excluding the cost shipping, import duty which is 70 percent of the net cost, and other clearing charges and taxes at the port.
“For instance, those with higher specifications, as the National Assembly usually goes for a higher range of vehicles, are XLE at $29,455; XLE V6 at $34,580; XSE at $30,005 and XSE V6 at $35,130.
“Inside sources disclosed to us that the leadership of the House is set to corruptly embezzle public funds and has proposed between 40 to 45 million for the proposed 400 vehicles, whereas the actual costs from Toyota website are between N10,000.000 and N15,000,000.
“Our sources also disclosed that some members of the House have rejected the cars as an unnecessarily expensive venture that will corruptly enrich the leadership of the lower chamber. Our investigation also disclosed that you have offered between N18 million to N20 million cash to House members that have rejected the cars, to lure them falsely consent and append their signature of taking delivery of cars purportedly purchased with N40 and N45 million, depending on the range of the vehicles.
“We are concerned that the Buhari administration is fighting corruption and there need for every citizen, both natural and corporate citizens (civil society organization) to assist the government and join the fight against corruption.
“We, therefore, make this application in compliance with the express provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and we urge you to kindly provide us with information and documents listed in the subject matter of this letter within the time provided for in the Act (seven days),” the petition read in part.
Failure to accede to its request, the group, however, threatened to “approach the Court to compel you to perform this public duty where you fail to do so. In addition, we have petitioned the relevant anti-corruption agencies.”