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HomeMetro NewsEFCC arraigns ex-Aviation Minister Oduah, eight others in N7.9 bln fraud case

EFCC arraigns ex-Aviation Minister Oduah, eight others in N7.9 bln fraud case

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By Samuel Bankole

Former Nigerian Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, along with eight other individuals and five companies, has been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice I.E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja.

The arraignment, which took place on July 21, 2023, is in connection with a 25-count charge related to money laundering, according to a statement by the anti-graft agency on Friday.

Among the accused are Gloria Odita and Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, who were employed at Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC) and served as aides to the former Minister of Aviation.

Irene Chukwuma, along with the companies – Global Offshore And Marine Limited, Tiptop Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited, and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation – were also charged in the case.

The first count of the charge alleges that Stella Adaeze Oduah, during her tenure as Minister of Aviation, conspired with the other defendants and the aforementioned companies between January 2014 and April 2014 in Abuja to commit the offense of money laundering.

This contravenes Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended), punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.

In Count 5, Oduah is accused of taking control of N1.63 billion (One Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) during her tenure as Minister of Aviation and channeling it into the account of Global Offshore and Marine Ltd.

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The money was allegedly sourced from I-Sec Security Nig. Ltd accounts with First Bank Plc, and this act violates Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended), punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them. Subsequently, Justice Ekwo granted bail to the accused individuals based on the terms of the administrative bail earlier provided by the EFCC. The trial is set to commence on October 17, 2023.

It should be noted that the EFCC initially filed the charges against Oduah and the others on December 17, 2020.

However, attempts to arraign them faced numerous challenges, including the unavailability of the defendants in court on several occasions, resulting in multiple adjournments. Settlement negotiations and other issues further prolonged the process over nearly three years.

During the recent court session, Justice Ekwo requested the EFCC’s investigation report concerning an anonymous threat message he received via SMS in relation to the case.

The lead prosecutor of the EFCC, Hassan Liman informed the court that the Commission is actively trying to identify the anonymous sender.

Due to the EFCC’s failure to produce the report, Ekwo has ordered the Commission to hand over the investigation file on Stella Adaeze Oduah and the eight others to the Attorney General of the Federation within two weeks to ensure the continuity of the prosecution.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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