The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has on a number of events used his powers to frustrate the trial of former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, over a multi-billion naira scandal.
SaharaReporters learnt that since Oduah dumped the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC, Malami had been making efforts to place a cease to the trial.
Oduah, who the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indicted in 2014, alongside the Nigerian subsidiary of Chinese building firm, CCECC, in alleged fraudulent money transactions of about N5 billion, has refused to look in court docket with the backing of the AGF.
On December 17, 2020, EFCC filed 25 counts towards Oduah (1st defendant), CCECC Nigeria Limited (ninth defendant) and 7 others comprising individuals and companies.
One of the opposite defendants within the case, Gloria Odita (2nd defendant) is claimed to be an aide to Oduah when she was Minister of Aviation. She is claimed to be the corporate secretary for Sea Petroleum & Gas Company (SPGC) Limited, a agency based by the previous minister.
The remainder of the defendants are an worker of SPCG and aide to Oduah, Nwobu Nnamdi (third defendant), Chukwuma Chinyere (4th defendant), Global Offshore and Marine Ltd (fifth defendant), Tip Top Global Resources Limited (sixth defendant), Crystal Television Limited (seventh defendant), and Sobora International Limited (eighth defendant).
The EFCC, within the 25 counts, accused them of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, transferring; taking management and taking possession of proceeds of fraud, aiding and abetting cash laundering and opening nameless financial institution accounts.
Specifically, the prosecution alleged in two of the 25 counts that Oduah and Odita opened nameless “private banking nominee” greenback and naira accounts with First Bank, thereby committing an offence opposite to part 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable below part 11(4) (a) of the identical Act.
Oduah was to be arraigned on February 9, 2021, however she didn’t seem in court docket on the excuse that she had not been served the papers; the court docket then adjourned to February 22 for her arraignment however the defendant had refused to look in court docket.
The court docket additionally fastened April 19 for the arraignment however the strike embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria delayed the court docket listening to.
On July 12, Oduah refused to look in court docket and the decide threatened to challenge a warrant of arrest towards her and different defendants in the event that they failed to look in court docket by the subsequent adjourned date.
The lawyer referred to as the court docket consideration to the truth that Oduah, who’s the first defendant, and one other defendant listed as 4th within the trial weren’t in court docket.
“I will fix another date for arraignment and if they like, let them not come,” Justice Inyang Ekwo stated on the time.
Also on October 20, Oduah, who at the moment represents Anambra North Senatorial District on the National Assembly, was scheduled for arraignment earlier than Justice Ekwo, however the continuing couldn’t happen resulting from a public vacation.
The court docket then fastened the trial for November 22 (right now) and 23. However, on the trial on Monday, the scheduled arraignment was stalled because of a petition despatched to Malami.
Oduah and her co-accused individuals couldn’t take a plea due to an utility by one of many defence legal professionals, Ogwu Onoja (SAN), asking the court docket to not go on with the plea taking.
Onoja knowledgeable the court docket that there was a petition dated January 29, to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in respect of the cost.
According to Onoja, the letter of grievance claimed that Oduah and the opposite defendants are being persecuted.
Onoja stated having submitted the petition to the AGF, “he requested for the file but up till now, the EFCC (Economic and Financial Cimes Commission) vehemently refused to remit the file to the AGF”.
“The question is: Can the AGF request for a file to review a criminal charge, and an agency will say no,” Onoja queried.
“My lord, the plea cannot be taken on account of the issue at hand,” Onoja added.
Therefore, the court ordered parties to file written addresses on the issue before adjourning to February 10.
SaharaReporters learnt that Oduah’s interest is being protected after she dumped the PDP for APC.
On August 27, 2021, Oduah joined the APC, claiming she joined the party to change the political narrative in the South-East.
Oduah, like some other politicians who joined the ruling party, has been under investigation by the EFCC for her alleged involvement in a scandal.
The allegations included a dubious contract for the supply of security equipment to 22 airports across the country.
SaharaReporters had reported that there were concerted efforts by a few persons in key positions to compromise and frustrate Oduah’s prosecution.
Speaking to SaharaReporters in October, a source at the Presidency had said there were concerted and subtle efforts by Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege to “frustrate, sabotage and compromise the EFCC, its witnesses and prosecution team and Justice Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
He had added, “There are concerted and subtle efforts by Deputy Senate President and Senate President to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance by mounting undue pressure on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and also Justice Ekwo of Federal High Court Abuja for them to frustrate, compromise and sabotage the prosecution and trial of Sen Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation.
“This well-orchestrated plan has been perfected by the above-mentioned highly placed Nigerians.”
Since the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015, a number of Nigerian politicians and political leaders with corruption cases hanging on their necks have found a haven in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress.
The defection of such political leaders to the APC has automatically stalled prosecution of their corruption cases – a pattern that negates the self-acclaimed anti-corruption campaign of the present regime.
During the 2019 elections, Adams Oshiomhole, a former National Chairman of the APC had announced that those who joined the ruling party would have their “sins” forgiven.
He encouraged more politicians in opposition parties to toe the path of some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had defected to the APC at that time.
“I am told that there are a lot of very senior people from PDP who have decided to join forces with President Buhari to take the broom to sweep away PDP and to continue to ensure that APC continues to preside all over Nigeria.
“We have quite a number of other leaders who have come. We have quite a number of other leaders who have come… in fact, once you have joined APC, all your sins are forgiven,” he had stated.