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Malami again stalls EFCC’s arraignment of Oduah

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Malami again stalls her trial over N7.9b money laundering charge

By Jeph Ajobaju, Chief Copy Editor

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Stella Oduah could not be arraigned in court on Tuesday, for the sixth time, because federal Attorney General Abubakar Malami is still sitting on the case and refusing to provide the papers for her trial.

She is charged to the Federal High Court in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly laundering N7.9 billion when she was Aviation Minister in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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Jonathan sacked her and three other Ministers on 12 February 2014 over alleged corruption.

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The Pandora Papers show that when Oduah was a Minister between 2011 and 2014, she secretly bought properties in London with N5 billion cash through her offshore company in Seychelles.

The EFCC charge sheet in the current court case was filed on 17 December 2020.

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Oduah, now a Senator for Anambra North, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 26 August 2021.

After her defection to the APC, she petitioned Malami, who is also a member of the party, alleging that her court case is political persecution.

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Malami in November 2021 withdrew the case file from the EFCC for him to review it. The case returned to court following public outcry that he was trying to kill it.

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Oduah then defected from the APC back to the PDP on 28 April 2022, after sojourning eight months in the party of Muhammadu Buhari.

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Court appearance

After failing to show up on several previous occasions, she was present in court on Tuesday along with eight co-defendants but they could not be arraigned  because of a lack of paperwork from Malami, per reporting by The Nation.

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Government counsel Hassan Liman, SAN tendered a letter from Malami’s office and demanded that the accused persons be ordered to take their plea.

He drew the attention of the court to the fact that the charges against them were filed on 17 December 2020 by the government but efforts to arraign them have not been successful.

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Liman’s attention was, however, drawn to a portion in Malami’s letter dated 6 May 2022 to the effect that his office is still looking into the issues raised by one of the defendants.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who was to order that plea be taken, said Malami should be given time to take a definite position in order not to embark on an exercise in futility.

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Other lawyers standing for the defendants agreed with the court that Malami be given another time to complete his action on the case file and issue the necessary directive.

Ekwo fixed 12 and 13 October for the plea of the defendants to be taken and for trial.

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Oduah’s arraignment had before now been stalled five times due to her initial persistent absence in court.

Ekwo on 12 July 2021 threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against her if she failed to show up for arraignment on the then adjourned date of 19 October 2021.

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The EFCC alleged in the charge sheet that Oduah misappropriated N7.9 billion public funds when she was Aviation Minister

The other defendants are

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  • Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi
  • Chukwuma Irene Chinyere
  • Global Offshore
  • Marine Limited
  • Tip Top Global Resources Limited
  • Crystal Television Limited
  • Sobora International Limited and  
  • A foreign construction company.

They are charged with 25 counts, which include conspiracy and money laundering as well as maintaining anonymous bank accounts.

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