How Nigeria’s Attorney General, Malami Frustrated N7.9bn Fraud Trial Of Stella Oduah After Ex-Aviation Minister Joined Ruling APC

A well-orchestrated plan by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to compromise and frustrate the prosecution of Stella Oduah, a senator with corruption cases hanging on her neck has been uncovered.

Oduah, a former aviation minister, joined the ruling All Progressives Congress on August 27, 2021.

SaharaReporters had exclusively reported in 2021 that Oduah’s trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over N7.9 billion fraud may gradually 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 (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) 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 for 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.

SaharaReporters gathered that the arraignment of the Senator was aborted at the Federal High Court in Abuja during the last adjourned date (Monday, November 22nd, 2021) over a letter written by Malami.

When Oduah and three others were called into the dock to take their plea, counsel for 7th and 8th defendants, Ogwu James Onoja (SAN), objected to the arraignment on the ground that his clients were being persecuted by the EFCC.

According to him, the aggrieved defendants had petitioned Malami, seeking a review of the charges against them.

Ogwu informed Justice Inyang Ekwo that the AGF, upon receipt of the petition, wrote the chairman of EFCC to remit the case file to his office for a review, adding that in flagrant disregard to the AGF’s letter, the EFCC had bluntly refused to remit the case file to the AGF.

He tendered a certified true copy of the AGF’s letter as received by the EFCC chairman and urged the court not to go ahead with the arraignment until the petition had been resolved in the interest of justice.

However, lawyer to EFCC, Ofem Uket denied knowing anything about the AGF’s letter, adding that as a staff member of the EFCC, he was just sighting the letter for the first time in court.

The counsel urged the court to disregard the petition by the defendants and proceed to arraign them.

He said that the AGF would have come to the court if he had any opposition to the arraignment.

However, Justice Ekwo said that since the petition was raised as both a statutory and constitutional matter by the defendants, he would not proceed.

Oduah’s planned arraignment on the corruption charges has been stalled five times due to her persistent absence in court and public holiday.

“How can the office of AGF in strict collusion with the counsel for Stella Oduah stall the court proceedings and prevent Stella Oduah from taking her plea, after Stella had refused to appear in the same court on five occasions to take her plea (Feb 9, 22, 2021; April 19, 2021; July 12 2021, September 19, 2021),” a source told SaharaReporters.

“She appeared in the court finally on November 22, 2021, because of the assurance she has gotten/elicited from the office of AGF that they would use the letter from his office, asking the Chairman of EFCC to submit the file to him for case review, to stall her arraignment/ trial, thereby preventing her from entering witness box to take her plea.

“It is most unfortunate that the case is in limbo and comatose state now. The questions on the lips of many Nigerians are: Is Stella Oduah above the law? ls the interest of office of the AGF in this case a pecuniary interest or proprietary interest? Why will the office of AGF not allow the Chairman of EFCC to do his job diligently and professionally as it relates to the prosecution of Stella Oduah?

“How could the office of the AGF write a request letter to EFCC Chairman requesting for the case to be submitted to his office for a review? ls the office of the AGF not aware that the case was duly, robustly and painstakingly investigated by EFCC and millions of taxpayers’ money spent on the investigation?

“ls the office of the AGF not aware that case file of Stella Oduah was among the case that the Justice Ayo Salami (retd)-led Presidential Panel on the activities of EFCC investigated among others and recommended for immediate prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari (among others). And Mr President graciously approved the immediate prosecution of Stella Oduah and others as contained in the recommendation of Justice Ayo Salami-presidential panel?

“The most bogging question is whether the office of the AGF has the power to request the EFCC chairman to submit Stella Oduah’s case file for a case review, whereas the case has been duly investigated by the EFCC, reviewed by the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel and Mr President graciously approved the recommendations of the panel and the Stella Oduah case duly filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja.

“Is the office of the AGF not aware that Senator Oduah wants the case to be kept in “incubator” without any arraignment or trial till May 29, 2023, when our dear president hands over to a successor. The question on the minds of many Nigerians is whether Senator Oduah is above the law? if she is not, why should the office of the AGF truncate her arraignment with a convoluted letter after she had refused to honour court summons on five occasions?

“Nigerians are calling on well-meaning people, lovers of democracy and patriots to rise up to agitate for Senator Oduah to enter the witness box and take her plea. President Buhari should call the AGF, Malami to order, so he can stop interfering in the case so that the arraignment and trial of Oduah can commence immediately. Also, the EFCC should rise to the occasion and ask for the transfer of the case to another judge of Federal High Court.”

History Of Controversies

SaharaReporters had in September 2017 uncovered how Oduah bought a $1.2million home in London, disguising it in the robes of a foreign-registered company in an effort to avoid detection.

The transaction, which had been kept secret, was blown open when Mrs. Oduah decided to rent out the house.

SaharaReporters also reported in February 2018 that the EFCC had started investigating Oduah over her involvement in the N9.4 billion contract for the supply of security equipment to 22 airports across the country.

Recently, Pandora Papers, one of the biggest leaks of financial documents in the world, uncovered how Oduah secretly acquired mansions in London.

One of the properties is said to be in her name, two through her Nigerian-incorporated firm, and four secretly through her Seychelles offshore company.

International Trading and Logistics Company Limited (ITCL) was incorporated in Seychelles, a commonly used secrecy and tax haven, with Oduah as the ultimate beneficial owner.

She reportedly used the company to acquire the four London properties worth a total of 6.7 million pounds between October 2012 and August 2013.

At the time, Oduah was a minister in the government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

She served as Minister of Aviation between 2011 and 2014 when she was fired over a massive corruption scandal.

Oduah was indicted by two panels, which probed the purchase of two bullet-proof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), an agency under her supervision, for N255 million in violation of Nigeria’s public procurement and appropriation laws.

According to the UK Land Registry records, on October 19, 2012, ITCL bought a house at 23 St Edmunds Terrace, London, NW8 7QA for 5.3 million pounds.

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