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Former Aviation Minister Stella Oduah Pleads Not Guilty in N5 Billion Corruption Case

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ABUJA, Nigeria — Former Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, and eight others on Friday, July 21, 2023, pleaded not guilty to a charge of N5 billion fraud brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The group, including Ms. Oduah, who formerly represented the Anambra North Senatorial District in the 9th National Assembly, were arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Also implicated in the case are Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, alongside companies Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, and Sobora International Ltd.

The charges, filed by the EFCC on December 17, 2020, were brought to the court’s attention on Monday after counsel Hassan Liman SAN requested Justice Ekwo to permit the defendants to enter their pleas.

“The charge against the defendants has been filed since December 17, 2020,” said Liman, during the hearing.

The former Aviation Minister and her co-defendants are accused in a 25-count charge (FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020) of alleged conspiracy, money laundering, and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank, all during Ms. Oduah’s tenure as a minister during the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.

As of the time of reporting, court proceedings were still ongoing. The case marks yet another chapter in Nigeria’s constant battle with corruption and fraud, particularly amongst high-ranking officials.

The outcomes of this case will undoubtedly be watched closely by many nationwide.

Stella Oduah, Former Aviation Minister, Set for Arraignment in N5 Billion Fraud Case

The Federal High Court in Abuja has set July 21, 2023, as the date for Stella Oduah’s and other defendants’ arraignment, following charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Justice Inyang Ekwo on Monday, July 17, 2023, fixed the date in response to EFCC counsel Hassan Liman’s request to proceed with the defendants’ plea, with charges having been filed against them on December 17, 2020.

The EFCC has sued Oduah, who represented the Anambra North Senatorial District at the 9th National Assembly, along with Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere.

Also included are Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd, and others.

Oduah faces allegations of N5 billion fraud and financial misappropriation during her tenure as minister under the Jonathan administration.

The 25-count charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020, accuses the defendants of conspiracy, money laundering, and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.

During the hearing, Liman recounted that the court had instructed the EFCC to investigate a letter sent to the Chief Justice of Nigeria against Justice Ekwo. “This is how far the commission has gone in carrying out the directive of the court,” he stated, vowing that the EFCC would spare no effort to bring the offender to justice.

Defence lawyer Kanu Agabi expressed solidarity with the judges, stating, “No one should threaten our judges. It is up to the work of the judges that this country continues to survive.”

Ogwu James, SAN, pointed out that the issue was not about the petition, but the contact the person made with the court.

Justice Ekwo maintained that the order to arrest the person was still in effect. Expressing dissatisfaction with the degeneration of the trial, he insisted, “The court is never without an option, but out of respect to you, I will not take those options.”

Justice Ekwo affirmed that the trial would proceed to its conclusion, warning that any defendant absent from court when the trial is scheduled would be ordered to be arrested and detained.

Despite Liman’s appeal to let the defendants take their plea while the investigation into the source of the threatening letter and text messages continues, the defence lawyers objected.

The case has been adjourned until July 21, 2023, for pleas.

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