Senate President, Deputy Move To prevent Trial Of Ex-Minister, Stella Oduah
A move by President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, and other leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to frustrate the prosecution of Stella Oduah, a senator embroiled in corruption cases, has been uncovered.
On August 27, 2021, Oduah was received into the fold of the ruling APC party at a brief ceremony held in Abuja.
National Chairman of the APC caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni; Omo-Agege; Atiku Bagudu, Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), and Hope Uzodinma, Imo State governor, were present at the event.
In April that Oduah’s trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over N9.4 billion fraud may gradually be scuttled going by her secret plot with Lawan and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The trial of Oduah could not proceed in February because the co-defendants and the ex-minister failed to appear before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The judge had given the prosecution additional weeks and slated April 19 for the continuation of trial, but the case of the former minister again did not come up as scheduled.
It was gathered that Oduah met with Lawan and Malami to frustrate her case with the EFCC.
“February 22 has passed but she was not arraigned. April 19 has also passed. She is working very hard, using Senate President and AGF to either scuttle arraignment or frustrate the trial. Alternatively, they are planning to water down the trial through the prosecution via the EFCC chairman.
“Another way is through the prosecutor, Dr Hassan Liman, a close friend of Lawan and the AGF,” a source had revealed to SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters reported on February 22 that the EFCC had earlier planned to re-arraign Oduah over fraud involving funds totalling over N9.4 billion that same day but her co-defendants failed to show up in court as part of the plot.
Oduah was scheduled to be arraigned on 25 counts of money laundering alongside Gloria Odita, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited, and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company Limited.
When the case was mentioned, the prosecuting counsel, Dr Hassan Liman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court that the commission had tried every means possible but was unable to serve the fifth and sixth defendants with the court processes.
He, therefore, applied for additional 14 days to serve them.
Speaking to SaharaReporters on Wednesday, a source at the Presidency said there are concerted and subtle efforts by Lawan and Omo-Agege to “frustrate, sabotage and compromise the EFCC, its witnesses and prosecution team and Justice Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
He added, “There are concerted and subtle efforts by Deputy Senate President and Senate President to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance by mounting undue pressure on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and also Justice Ekwo of Federal High Court Abuja for them to frustrate, compromise and sabotage the prosecution and trial of Sen Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation.
“This well-orchestrated plan has been perfected by the above-mentioned highly placed Nigerians.
“Nigerians, especially civil society organisations are enjoined to campaign and mount pressure on relevant individuals and agencies namely the National Security Adviser, Chairman of EFCC, Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), and Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute diligently and unravel the reason for the delay and hindrance in prosecuting this case into which the EFCC had finished investigation since 2 years ago.
“Ensure that not only will justice be done in this matter, but also that justice will be seen to have been done. Ensure that nobody no matter how highly placed (in Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) derails, sabotages, compromises or frustrates the long arm of justice as it concerns prosecution and trial of Stella Oduah.”
SaharaReporters had in September 2017 uncovered how Oduah bought a house in London for $1.2 million, disguising it in the robes of a foreign-registered company to avoid detection.
The transaction, which had been kept secret, was blown open when Mrs. Oduah decided to rent out the house.
She engaged the services of a real estate company, Daniel Ford and Company Ltd, for that purpose.
SaharaReporters had also reported in February 2018 that the EFCC had commenced the investigation of Oduah, over her involvement in the N9.4 billion contract for the supply of security equipment to 22 airports across the country.
Recently, Pandora Papers, one of the biggest leaks of financial documents in the world, uncovered how Oduah secretly acquired mansions in London.
One of the properties is said to be in her name, two through her Nigerian-incorporated firm, and four secretly through her Seychelles offshore company.
International Trading and Logistics Company Limited (ITCL) was incorporated in Seychelles, a commonly used secrecy and tax haven, with Oduah as the ultimate beneficial owner.
She reportedly used the company to acquire the four London properties worth a total of £6.7 million between October 2012 and August 2013.
At the time, Oduah was a minister in the government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
She served as Minister of Aviation between 2011 and 2014, when she was fired over a massive corruption scandal.
Oduah was indicted by two panels, which probed the purchase of two bullet-proof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), an agency under her supervision, for N255 million in violation of Nigeria’s public procurement and appropriation laws.
According to the UK Land Registry records, on October 19, 2012, ITCL bought a house at 23 St Edmunds Terrace, London, NW8 7QA for £5.3 million.