The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, today, July 21, 2023, arraigned Stella Adaeze Oduah, a former minister of Aviation before Justice I.E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court Maitama, Abuja on a 25-count charge bordering on money laundering.
She was docked alongside three others: Gloria Odita, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi and Irene Chukwuma and five companies-Global Offshore And Marine Limited, Tiptop Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited, and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
Justice Ekwo granted bail to the defendants on the terms of the administrative bail earlier offered them by the EFCC, and adjourned till October 17, 2023 for commencement of trial.
It will be recalled that the Commission had filed the charge against Oduah and others on December 17, 2020 but attempts to arraign them witnessed many twists and turns.
Several times the defendants were not available in court forcing adjournments; and when they were available, it was either counsel was pushing for adjournment on the grounds of settlement negotiations, or the Judge had issues that would not allow for arraignment.
The ding-dung continued for almost three years.
At today’s session, Justice Ekwo requested for the report of an investigation which he had ordered the EFCC to carry out with respect to an anonymous threat message he received via SMS in relation to the case.
Hassan Liman, SAN, lead prosecutor of the EFCC told the court that the Commission was doing its best to apprehend the anonymous messenger.
However, the inability of the Commission to produce the report, Justice Ekwo said, has compelled him to order the Commission to, within two weeks, hand over the file on its investigation of Stella Adaeze Oduah and eight others to the Attorney General of the Federation to continue with the prosecution.