The failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to serve corruption charges on two defendants yesterday stalled the arraignment of a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, on fraud and corruption allegations.
Oduah’s arraignment was first stalled on February 9, following her absence in court which prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN) tied to nonservice of court processes. Trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, then rescheduled her arraignment for Monday, February 22.
However, when the case was called yesterday, although Oduah this time was present in court and was represented by Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), but her arraignment again failed due to non-service of suit on two other defendants. The prosecution counsel had told the court that the commission was yet to serve the fifth and sixth defendants specifically with the court processes.
Lima then sought a short adjournment to enable the prosecution serve the defendants, which are corporate bodies, at their respective addresses. In a short ruling, Justice Ekwo granted the request and directed that the defendants be served within 14 days.
The judge subsequently fixed April 19 for the arraignment of the defendants. Oduah, who is a senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, is to stand trial alongside eight others on a 26-count criminal charge bordering on corruption, misappropriation and money laundering running into billions of naira.
The senator was said to have committed the alleged offences when she served as Minister of Aviation under former President Goodluck Jonathan. In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/316/20, the defendants were, in count one charged with money laundering, while in count two,
Oduah, in connivance with one Gloria Odita, Company Sec diaretary of Sea Petroleum & Gas Conthat Ltd. (SPGC), was accused to have “used your position to transfer the sum of N839,780,738… 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) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.
She was also accused of illegally transferring another sum of N838,000,000 in count three. In count four, both Oduah and Odita were accused of laundering another sum of NI,629,250,000 in February 2014 and another N1.629,250,000 in count five.