Senate admits buying SUV bullet-proof Range Rover but not at N298m
*It is $298,000 not N298million
By Sandra Onyekwere
Senate has on Tuesday, admitted buying the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), bullet proof Range Rover however, it denied that the vehicle is worth N298 million as had been reported in the media.
This was disclosed in two separate statements issued by the Special Assistant Communications & Strategy, Office of the Senate President, Mr. Olu Onemola and Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
In the earlier statement, Mr. Onemola lamented that “several news publications, both print and online, have wrongly reported that the Range Rover Bullet Proof SUV vehicle at the center of the import duty waiver story is worth N298 million.”
He note, however, that the value of the car, as specified by all related documents, is $298,000 which makes it in the range of N58 million to N62 million (based on 2015 exchange rates). And if calculated at the average Dollar-Naira rate of N400 makes it N116m.
This, according to him, makes the inaccurate figure N240 million over the actual value of the car (since he is using a 2015 exchange rate to calculate a 2017 transaction).
In a later statement, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi told newsmen in Abuja that indeed the Senate procured the said vehicle but not at the price that was being reported.
Sabi said that the vehicle cost was procured at $298,000 (N49.1 million) and not N298 million as was being reported in the media.
According to the spokesperson of the Senate, the vehicle was procured in 2015 for $298 at an exchange rate of N165 to a dollar.
“Our attention has been drawn to the various false and mischievous reports in the media about the price of the vehicle which the Senate was said to have bought as part of its convoy but was later abandoned when it got impounded by the Customs over controversy surrounding import duty payment.
“The correct price of the vehicle when it was imported in 2015 is $298,000 which at the prevailing rate of N165 to a dollar is about N49, 170.
“The Senate paid N62.5m for the vehicle in November 2015. This is contrary to the mischief by those who decided to turn the $298,000 to N298 million as the price of the vehicle. For the avoidance of doubt, the price the Senate paid for that vehicle is N62.5m and not N298 million.
“The Senate will appreciate it if all reports relating to the legislative institution, particularly on this vehicle matter, are reported with accuracy and all facts put in proper perspective. We urge journalists to avoid sensationalism.
“The Senate is a responsible institution and those who believe that when they have issues to explain before it, the next thing to do is to resort to falsehood, blackmail, muck-raking and mud-slinging, should know that they are just overheating the polity and undermining our democratic institution.
“Finally, the Senate wish to reiterate our total commitment to upholding the rule of law and to work for Nigerians, in accordance with our constitution,” he said.
The Senate had been in the eye of the storm over its probe of the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) with media reports alleging that the upper legislative chamber was on a revenge mission.
Media reports alleged that attention of the Senate on the NSC was due to the fact that the service impounded an SUV allegedly procured by the President of the Senate Bukola Saraki.
The report said that the service refused to bulge in spite of the intervention of the Senate to release the SUV.
Meanwhile, at an investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, the importer of the vehicle absolved Saraki of any complicity in the importation.
The President of the Senate who also appeared before the committee stressed that he did not import any vehicle and does not own the vehicle that was purportedly seized.
He urged that the Senate as an institution must be strengthened so as to save the nation’s democracy.