The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has again fixed 12,13 October for arraignment and trial of former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah and eighth others following its dissatisfaction with a second letter from the chambers of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Oduah, Gloria Odita, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Limited; Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited and China Civil Engineering Construction Company Limited (CCECC) were on 16 December, 2020, sued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a 25 count charge bordering on fraud and financial misappropriation to the tune of N5b.
On November 22, 2021, when the defendants were to be arraigned, one of their lawyers, James Onoja, had raised an objection in open court contending that the EFCC refused to return the case file to the AGF (for review of the case) as requested.
Trial judge Inyang Ekwo had declined taking their plea then because of the AGF’s letter.
At the resumed sitting on Tuesday , EFCC’s counsel, Hassan Liman informed the court that the AGF had acknowledged receiving the case file and in a letter dated May 6 ,2022 , directed that the case continues.
“My lord, the charge in this matter was filed on the 16 December 2020, since, then the plea of the defendant has not been taken.
“On the last adjourned date, on February 2021, this court, upon my undertaking, I confirm that I will bring a response from AGF.
All the defense counsels said they didn’t have the letter from the AGF.
Meanwhile, Justice Inyang Ekwo read from the letter where the AGF stated that he was considering the appeal made to him, but that ” trial can proceed. “
Ekwo said he was not satisfied with the AGF’s response and that he should either write that parties should stop or proceed with the case.
However, Liman insisted that the EFCC does not need an approval from the AGF to go ahead with prosecuting a matter.
He said that plea should be taken first before any objection
“I submit with the greatest respect, with or without the letter of the AGF, the charge was filed by the EFCC,” he said.
But Justice Ekwo adjourned and directed the EFCC to get a definite response from the AGF.
“I am going to give you a date for trial, in which there is definite response from the chambers of the AGF.
“I am not satisfied with the second paragraph.
“I am adjourning this matter to October 12,13 for plea and trial,” the judge said.
Oduah, a Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District had on August 26, 2021 defected from the People’s Democratic party to the All Progressive Congress.
She has reportedly returned to the PDP.