A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja presided over Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo has threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah if she fails to make herself available for trial.
Justice Eden Ekwo issued the threat following the refusal of the former Minister to honour court proceedings.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday said it has assembled a total of 32 witnesses to testify against the former Minister of Aviation, in the N10 billion fraud charge brought against her.
Mrs. Oduah was slated to appear in court on today over a 25-count charge brought against her by the EFCC; but the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District and the fourth defendants were not in court.
According to the counsel to the anti-graft agency, Dr. Hassan Liman, when the case came up for hearing, all the defendants have been served with the charges as ordered by the court and was baffled that former Minister was again, not in court without any excuse.
He said that 32 witnesses have been lined up to testify against her and eight others to establish the fraud charges against them.
Justice Eden Ekwo fixed October 19 for the arraignment of the former Minister and commencement of trial, threatening the defendants to be in court on the date or risk a bench warrant of arrest against them.
Listed for trial along with Oduah, as defendants in the charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020, are: Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd.
They are charged with conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with First Bank Plc.
The Federal Government, through the EFCC, filed the 25-count charge against them before the Federal High Court on Abuja.
In count four of the fresh charge, Oduah, Odita (whilst being the Company Secretary to Sea Petroleum and 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 from I-Sec Security Nigeria. Ltd account No. 2021756955 with First Bank Plc to Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account No. 2022977296 also domiciled with First Bank Plc, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
They were, said to have, between March and May 2014, taken control of N1,225,347,254 transferred from China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd bank account with Zenith Bank Plc to Private Banking Nominee account No. 2024414450 domiciles with First Bank Plc, which money court said they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit, fraud and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Oduah and Odita were, in count 24, accused of opening a naira “anonymous Private Banking Nominee Account No. 2024414450 with First Bank Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 11(4) (a) of the same Act.”
They were, in count 25, accused of opening a United States dollar “anonymous Private Banking Nominee account No. 2024414498 with First Bank Plc and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 1 1(4) (a) of the same Act”.