EFCC files fraud charges against Nigerian senator
The trial of the senator, a former minister, is expected to commence on February 22.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will February 22 arraign a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for alleged financial impropriety.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ms Oduah was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, but the judge, Inyang Ekwo, had to adjourn the case because the ex-minister was absent and had not been served with the relevant court documents.
Ms Oduah was in February 2014 removed as the aviation minister by then President Goodluck Jonathan following scandals she was involved in.
The former minister who later got involved in the campaigns for Mr Jonathan’s failed 2015 re-election bid, is currently the senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly.
The EFCC recently charged her alongside eight others with fraud offences in the case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/316/20.
According to NAN, the anti-corruption agency alleged that Mrs Oduah misappropriated public funds while serving as a minister.
EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in trying to defend Ms Oduah’s absence from Tuesday’s proceedings, confirmed to the court that the senator had not been served with the court processes.
The lawyer, therefore, urged the judge to adjourn the case to enable the anti-graft agency to serve the legislator
“My lord, the matter has been set out today (Tuesday) for arraignment but I have been informed by the commission that the first defendant (Oduah) is yet to be served.
“In view of that my lord, may I humbly apply for a very short date,” he said.
Responding, the judge, Mr Ekwo, said it was the duty of the prosecution to produce defendants in court.
He then adjourned the matter till February 22 for defendants to take their plea.
Ms Oduah was sacked by then President Jonathan on February 12, 2014, after she was stained by scandals, one of which was about the purchase of two bullet-proof cars by an agency under her supervision, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for N255 million.
The purchase was in violation of Nigeria’s public procurement and appropriation laws.
The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, which conducted an investigative hearing on the matter, also found out that in its report that the spending of the N255 million was not covered by the 2013 budget.
The House also noted at the time that Ms Oduah breached Nigerian laws by exceeding her approval limit and signing off over N634 million for the agency to buy 54 vehicles.
Another panel set up by the President also indicted Ms Oduah for breach of relevant laws.
While battling with the procurement scandal, Ms Oduah was also enmeshed in another certificate scam.