A federal high court in Abuja on Monday threatened to issue a bench warrant of arrest on former Aviation Minister, Senator Stella Oduah if she fails to make herself available for arraignment and trial on October 19, 2021 on 25 count charges for alleged N10B fraud.
Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the threat following the refusal of the former minister, Oduah to honour court proceeding on Monday.
Oduah who now represents Anambra North Senatorial district in the Senate was billed to be arraigned on Monday for the alleged offence along with four other defendants.
Listed for trial along with Oduah, as defendants in the charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020 are Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd.
When the matter came up, counsel to EFCC, Dr Hassan Liman (SAN), informed the court that all the defendants have been served with the charges as ordered by court and expressed disappointment that the former minister was again, not in court and gave no excuse .
He said that the prosecution has lined up 32 witnesses to testify against her and 8 others in order to establish the fraud charges against them.
Justice Ekwo while fixing October 19 to dock the former minister and kick start trial, warmed the absentee defendants to be in court on the date or have bench warrant of arrest issued against them.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with First Bank Plc.
The federal government, through the EFCC filed the 25-count charge against them before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
In count four of the fresh charge, Oduah, Odita (whilst being the Company Secretary to Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC), and an aide to the former Minister of Aviation) were said to have in February, 2014 used their positions to transfer N1,629,250,000.00 from I-Sec Security Nigeria. Ltd account No. 2021756955 with First Bank Plc to Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account No. 2022977296 also domiciled with First Bank Plc, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
They were, in count 21 said to have, between March and May, 2014 took control of N1,225,347,254.00 transferred from a foreign company account with Zenith Bank Plc to Private Banking Nominee account No. 2024414450 domiciled with First Bank Plc, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: Fraud and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Oduah and Odita were, in count 24, accused of opening a naira “anonymous Private Banking Nominee Account No. 2024414450 with First Bank Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 11(4) (a) of the same Act.”
They were, in count 25, accused of opening a United State dollar “anonymous Private Banking Nominee account No. 2024414498 with First Bank Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 1 1(4) (a) of the same Act