The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Senator Stella Oduah, a former Minister of Aviation, before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on a 25-count charge bordering on money laundering.
Others arraigned in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/20, before Justice Inyang Ekwo, are; Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd and Sobora International Ltd.
Oduah, who served as Aviation Minister from 2011 to 2014, and the other defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them in the open court.
The charges alleged that Oduah and Odita, who was identified as her aide and the Company Secretary to Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC), had in February 2014, used their positions to transfer the sum of N1,629,250,000.00 from I-Sec Security Nig. Ltd accounts No. 2021756955 with First Bank Plc, to Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account No. 2022977296 also domiciled with First Bank Plc, which money they reasonably ought to have known that it formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
The defendants were 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 equally accused of opening a United State 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.”
After the defendants’ pleas were taken, Justice Ekwo allowed them to go home on the administrative bail the EFCC earlier granted to them. He ordered the EFCC to transfer the case file to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to ensure diligent prosecution of the defendants.
The case was adjourned till October 17 for trial.
The charges against Oduah and her co-defendants have been filed since 2020 but the EFCC was unable to arraign the defendants owing to a petition they wrote to Mr. Abubakar Malami, the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as the minister had urged the court to put the trial on hold to enable him to review the case file.
However, he subsequently gave the EFCC the nod to go ahead with the trial of the defendants.