Fresh petition aborts Stella Oduah’s arraignment in N5bn corruption charge

For the sixth consecutive times, the planned arraignment of former Aviation Minister. Senator Adaeze Stella Oduah in a N5bn corruption charges could not hold before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Again, Mrs Oduah arraignment which was shifted to Monday, November 22 before Justice Inyang  Ekwo of the federal high court in Abuja could not hold due to a petition written by two co- defendants  against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a criminal charge .

The two co-defendants are Crystal Television Limited and Sobora International Limited which are 7th and 8th defendants respectively.

Shortly after Mrs Oduah, a serving senator representing Anambra North in the senate and three others were called into the dock to take their plea, counsel to 7th and 8th defendants, Ogwu James Onoja SAN objected to the arraignment on the ground that his clients are been persecuted by EFCC.

The senior lawyer insisted that the aggrieved defendants had petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF)  Abubakar Malami SAN seeking for a review of the charges against them.

Onoja  informed Justice  Ekwo that the AGF upon receipt of the petition, wrote the Executive Chairman of the EFCC to remit the case file to his office for a review adding that in flagrant disregard to the AGF’S letter, the EFCC had bluntly refused to remit the case file to the AGF.

He tendered certified true copy of the AGF’s letter as received by the EFCC chairman and urged the court not to go ahead in the arraignment until the petition has been resolved in the interest of justice.

However, counsel to EFCC, Mr Ofem Uket denied knowing anything about the AGF letter adding that as a staff of EFCC, he was just sighting the letter for the first time in court.

The counsel urged the court to disregard the petition by the defendants and proceed to arraign them.

He said that the AGF would have come to the court if he had any opposition to the arraignment.

However, Justice Ekwo said that since the petition was raised as both statutory and constitutional matter by the defendants, he would not proceed.

The Judge then ordered counsel in the matter to file written addresses for and against the issue raised in the open court and exchange same on the competence of the charges before the next adjourned date.

Justice Ekwo fixed February 10, 2022 for adoption of the written addresses and also ordered that Mrs Oduah and other defendants in the charges should continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them.

Arrangements to arraigns Oduah on corruption charges in the past five adjourned dates were stalled due to her  persistent  absence in  Court  and public holiday.

Justice Ekwo had on July 12 threatened to issue warrant of arrest for her arrest should she fail to make herself available for arraignment on the then adjourned date of October 19 which later fell on Eid-el Maulud holiday.

The arrest threat was issued following her non appearance to honour court proceedings of July 12 without any explanation from her side.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is alleging that Mrs Oduah misappropriated the N7.9B public funds while serving as a Aviation Minister under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.

Other defendants are Mrs Gloria Odita, Mrs Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Mrs Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Tip Top Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited and Sobora International Limited among others.

They are charged with conspiracy and money laundering as well as maintaining anonymous bank accounts.