Again, Stella Oduah’s arraignment on N7.9bn scam stalled

The planned arraignment of a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, on N7.9bn money laundering charges was stalled for the sixth time on Tuesday at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Odua, who was present in court with other eight co-defendants, could not be put in the dock following the inability of the Attorney General of the Federation to give a go-ahead with the arraignment.

At Tuesday proceedings, counsel for the Federal Government, Hassan Liman (SAN), tendered a letter from the AGF’s office and demanded that the accused persons should be ordered to take their plea.

He drew the attention of the court to the fact that the charge against them was filed since December 17, 2020 by the Federal Government, while efforts to arraign them had been unsuccessful.

Liman’s attention was, however, drawn to a portion in the AGF’s letter of May 6, 2022 to the effect that his office was still looking into the issues raised by one of the defendants in the matter.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who was to give order for the plea to be taken, insisted that the AGF must be given time to take a definite position in order not to embark on an exercise that might be in futility in the end.

Other lawyers standing for the defendants agreed with the court that the AGF should be given another time to complete his actions on the case file and issue necessary directives.

Justice Ekwo fixed October 12 and 13 for the plea of the defendants to be taken for trial.

Oduah’s planned arraignment had, before now, been stalled five times due to her persistent absence in court.

Justice Ekwo had on July 12, 2021, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against her should she fail to make herself available for arraignment on the then adjourned date of October 19, 2021.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that Oduah misappropriated the N7.9bn public funds while serving as a minister under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

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