May 25, 2024

Judge Suspends Fraud Case Against Stella Oduah Over Threatening Text Messages Received

Judge Suspends Fraud Case Against Stella Oduah Over Threatening Text Messages Received

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has suspended the trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah in the alleged N7.9 billion fraud charges brought against her by the Nigerian Government.

It had been reported that a directive for the arraignment of a former aviation minister, Oduah, had in October 2022 been issued in the N7.9 billion money laundering charges brought against her by the Federal Government.

A group, the Anti-Corruption Network, recently petitioned President Bola Tinubu over what it claims is a plot to stop the arraignment on Thursday, June 15, of Oduah over her alleged culpability in an alleged N7.9 billion fraud.

The group claimed that Senator Oduah’s belief that she is above the law is an affront to the rule of law, noting that she has refused to enter the dock and declare her innocence or guilt 13 times in the previous 13 hearings.

The petition, addressed to President Tinubu on June 13, 2023, was signed by Engr Olufemi Austin, Director of Programme; Abdulrasheed Dandutse, General Secretary; Victor Obi Esq Director, Monitoring, Prince Celsus Miaphen; Co-ordinator, Northern Operation.

The group, in the statement, said there were plans to stall Oduah’s arraignment on the case with charge no: FHC/ABJ/CS/316/2020 before Justice Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

However, Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday suspended the plan to arraign Oduah over an alleged threat to his life by yet-to-be-identified persons.

The Judge ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to find the persons behind a breach of his privacy following the receipt of text messages regarding the case.

Justice Ekwo, who gave the order on Thursday, shared copies of the messages to lawyers representing the parties in the open court and brought out a publication by the group in which his life was threatened over the planned trial, PM News reports.

He held that proceedings would not commence in the matter until the culprits were produced on the next adjourned date.

The judge also directed the deputy chief registrar of the Federal High Court in charge of Litigation to liaise with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to obtain the identities of the promoters of the offending organisation for the purpose of arresting them.

He said the sanctity of the court must be maintained, adding that Nigeria was not a banana republic or animal kingdom where acts of lawlessness could be condoned.

He ordered the prosecution team to produce the culprits in court as part of efforts to also ensure that the defendants in the case were safe to stand trial.

Counsel for EFCC, Ofem Uket, expressed sadness over the development and vowed that the anti-graft agency would do the needful to bring the culprits to justice.

The judge adjourned the suit till July 17 for a report.

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