The Nation (Nigeria)
Alleged N10b fraud: Court threatens to arrest warrant for Stella Oduah, others
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.