The Nation (Nigeria)

Alleged N10b fraud: Court threatens to arrest warrant for Stella Oduah, others

- From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

AFEDERAL High in Abuja has threatened to issue warrants of arand rest against former Aviation Minister Stellah Oduah and eight others named in a charge pending before the court, if they fail to attend court on the next date.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the warning yesterday when Oduah (now a serving senator, representi­ng Anambra North Senatorial District) and some other defendants were absent at the proceeding­s, with no explanatio­n from their lawyers

Named as defendants in the charge, besides Oduah, are: Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Tip Top Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora Internatio­nal Limited China Civil Engineerin­g Constructi­on Corporatio­n (CCECC) Nigeria Limited.

In the 25-count charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC, the nine defendants are accused, among others, of laundering about N10 billion.

They are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and maintainin­g anonymous bank accounts with a popular bank.

At the mention of the case yesterday, the court averred that it was only Odita and Nnamdi that were present.

The developmen­t prompted the prosecutin­g lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN), to complain about the absence of the other defendants without any explanatio­n from their lawyers. Justice Ekwo said the court's business for the day was for the prosecutio­n to report its compliance with an earlier order granting leave for substitute­d service of the charge on the fifth and sixth defendants.

"When trial is fixed and they are not here, you can then complain," the judge told Liman, who reported that the prosecutio­n had complied with the order for substitute­d service.

In a ruling later, Justice Ekwo observed, as earlier noted by the prosecutio­n, that besides the second and third defendants, the others too were absent.

"This is a note of warning that warrants of arrest would be issued at the next date against any defendant who is absent," the judge said.

Upon the agreement of the lawyers in the case, the judge adjourned till October 19 and 20 for arraignmen­t and commenceme­nt of trial.

In count four, among others, in the fresh charge, Oduah and Odita - whilst being the Company Secretary to Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC), and an aide to the former Minister of Aviation were said to have, in February 2014, used their positions to transfer N1,629,250,000.00 from I-sec Security Nigeria Limited’s account number 2021756955 with a popular bank to Global Offshore and Marine Limited’s account number 2022977296 also domiciled with the bank.

The prosecutio­n averred that the defendants ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria