The planned arraignment of a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah on the N7.9bn money laundering charges was on Tuesday stalled for the sixth time before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
This follows a letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
Odua, who showed up in court along with eight co-defendants could not be put in the dock following the inability of Malami to give a definite go-ahead to the arraignment.
The prosecuting counsel, Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN) had shortly after the case was called up, notified the court that he received a letter from the office of the AGF in relation to the case.
According to Liman, Malami, in the letter dated May 6, disclosed that his office was still reviewing the facts of the case.
However, the AGF, said the court could proceed with the trial, pending the outcome of the review.
Justice Inyang Ekwo who was to give the order for the plea to be taken insisted that Malami should be given time to take a definite position in order not to embark on an exercise in futility.
Other lawyers standing for the defendants agreed with the court that the AGF should be given more time to complete his actions on the case file and issue the necessary directive.
Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed October 12 and 13 for the plea of the defendants to be taken and for trial.
Oduah’s planned arraignment had before now, been stalled five times due to her absence in court.
Justice Ekwo had on July 12, 2021, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against her should she fail to make herself available for arraignment on the then adjourned date of October 19, 2021.
SaharaReporters exclusively reported in 2021 that Oduah’s trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may be scuttled, going by her secret plot with Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Malami.
“February 22 (2021) has passed but she was not arraigned. April 19 has also passed. She is working very hard using Senate President and AGF to either scuttle arraignment or frustrate the trial. Alternatively, they are planning to water down the trial through the prosecution via the EFCC chairman.
“Another way is through the prosecutor, Dr Hassan Liman, a close friend of Lawan and the AGF,” a source had revealed to SaharaReporters.
Oduah is being prosecuted on 25 counts of money laundering alongside Gloria Odita, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company Limited.
A source who was at the court sitting accused the senator of compromising some judicial officers and journalists.
“Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the AGF to immediately continue the prosecution and trial of Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation under President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
“It will be recalled that Justice Ekwo of Federal High Court had invited Stella Oduah five times for Stella Oduah to appear and enter the witness box to take her plea, but she blatantly and recalcitrantly refused to come to court to take her plea.
“Now, President Buhari has directed for the trial to commence immediately. Stella Oduah has compromised the court and some segments of the media. Stella Oduah and her associates have been bragging that they are in control of Justice Ekwo of Federal Court Abuja.
“It appears that Stella and the court want to frustrate the case till Buhari hands over to his successor come May 29, 2023.”