Law News
Bulletproof cars: Judge’s transfer stalls judgment in Oduah’s case

The scheduled judgment in a suit filed against the Attorney General of the Federation by a former Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, could not be delivered on Monday owing to the transfer of the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang, from Lagos to the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

Justice Abang, who was moved from Lagos to Abuja early this month, had on December 1, 2015 fixed Monday for judgment in the case after taking arguments from all the parties in the suit.

Erstwhile registrars to the judge, however, told our correspondent on Monday that Justice Abang would return to Lagos on February 2, 2016 to deliver the judgment.

In the suit, which she filed in July last year, Oduah is praying the court to bar the Federal Government from investigating her over two  armoured BMW cars  reportedly procured at N255m in 2013 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority  during her tenure as Aviation Minister.

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the same court, who has now been moved to Enugu, had on August 26, 2015 made an order of interim injunction barring the defendants from taking any action against Oduah pending the determination of the suit.

Apart from the AGF, also joined as respondents in the suit are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission; and the Inspector General of Police.

Oduah alleged that the ruling All Progressives Congress government had perfected plans to use the EFCC, ICPC, the AGF and the police to persecute and humiliate her under the guise of fighting an anti-graft war.
She also alleged that the APC government had perfected plans to prosecute prominent members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, including herself, on trumped-up charges in a Lagos State government-controlled court.
She urged the court to stop the defendants from being used against her by the Federal Government.

But the AGF and the Inspector General of Police, in their preliminary objection to the suit, described Oduah’s suit as hypothetical, saying she had not established any cause of action against them, as she did not prove that she had been invited, arrested or detained by the AGF and the IGP.

Their lawyer, Mr. T.A. Gazali, also challenged the court’s jurisdiction on the grounds that the alleged violation of Oduah’s right did not take place in Lagos.

“From the whole of the applicant’s averments, there is nowhere she mentioned that her right was or is being breached by the respondents within the territorial space called Lagos,” Gazali argued.

On its own part, the EFCC, through its counsel, Mr. G.K. Latana, also described Oduah’s suit as baseless and speculative, urging the court to dismiss it.

But Oduah’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, urged the court to discountenance the defendants’ preliminary objections, insisting that “the respondents cannot choose for the applicant where to file her application if she has a choice.”

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