Barristers & Solicitors
Alleged N5b fraud: Court fixes July 21 for Oduah’s arraignment
Stella Oduah news

AFederal High Court in Abuja has fixed July 21 for the arraignment of Senator Stella Oduah and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after EFCC’s counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), prayed the court to allow the defendants to take their pleas, having filed the charge against them on December 17, 2020.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had sued Oduah alongside Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere.

Others include Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Tip Top Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited.

The senator, who represented Anambra North Senatorial District at the Ninth National Assembly, was scheduled to be arraigned for alleged N5 billion fraud and financial misappropriation while she served as Aviation Minister during the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.

In the 25-count charge filed against them, the EFCC accused them of conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.

Upon resumed hearing, Liman recalled that on June 15, the court drew the attention of counsel to a letter or petition written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) against Justice Ekwo and the judge gave a directive to the EFCC to investigate to unravel the identity of the persons.

He said the commission had carried out the investigation and was able to trace the identity of the person via the telephone number.

According to the lawyer, he is said to be Mr. Okolo Obinna Johnson, a promoter of two companies.

Liman said the effort was made through the search and linked the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the suspect via the telephone number submitted and that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) cooperated with the EFCC.

The lawyer said the anti-graft agency made all efforts to track the person, in conjunction with other security agencies, but were yet to be successful.

“This is how far the commission has gone in carrying out the directive of the court,” he said.

Liman assured the court that the EFCC would not leave any stone unturned in bringing the culprit to justice.

A defence lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), said he would not be silent when the court was threatened.

“No one should threaten our judges. It is up to the work of the judges that this country continues to survive,” he said.

Ogwu James (SAN) said the issue was not about the petition but the contact they made with the court.

He said though anybody had the right to write a petition, sending a message to the court was the issue.

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The EFCC’s lawyer said the commission had received the call log of the number through their investigation.

Justice Ekwo, who wondered how the person got his phone number, said: “That character was sending messages to me, thereby breaching my privacy.”

The judge, who said the order to arrest the person was still subsisting, added: “The order was to find him, bring him to court and let me deal with the matter.”

He said the order given to the Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation) of the court to get the certified particulars of another organisation involved in the matter at CAC had been carried out.

Justice Ekwo asked if anybody was representing the organisation in the court, but no one stood up.

The judge said the organisation’s letter, the phone number and their names would be given to the EFCC to arrest them and bring them to court.

He adjourned the matter till July 21 for the plea.