After dithering for months, former aviation minister impeachment of Senator Stella Oduah over alleged N7.9 billion money laundering deal finally secured a date for the start of the court case. KEHINDE OSASONA X-rays the intrigues and muscle flexes that followed.
Just last week, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), ordered that a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah, be brought to justice in connection with the N7.9 billion money laundering charges against her. by the federal government.
The AGF directive issued in a letter to the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, ended the adjournments suffered by the indictment for six consecutive times.
The trial for fraud recalled by Blueprint was postponed six times following the request of the AGF to allow it to study the files and give a legal opinion on this subject. The case is currently before Judge Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
His absence from the court had also contributed to the blocking of the proceedings in the case.
If not for what some concerned Nigerians have described as a power play, Oduah and his co-defendants in the alleged fraud trial would have been docked last year.
Oduah is being prosecuted 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 China Civil Engineering Construction Company Limited.
The scheduled indictment of Oduah, alongside Chinese construction giant CCECC and six others charged with money laundering to the tune of 5 billion naira, set the stage for another notable corruption trial in the country.
When in the latest proceedings, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) presented a letter to the Malami Court, demanding that the lawmaker be formally impeached for the alleged offences; he then realized that the trial had indeed begun.
Earlier, a publication reported that Oduah’s trial by the EFCC over an N7.9 was scuttled by an alleged secret conspiracy with Senate Speaker Ahmad Lawan and AGF Malami.
The arraignment, originally scheduled for February 22, 2021 and April 19, could not hold for reasons not too much in the public domain.
In the same year, the judge threatened to issue a warrant for Ms Oduah’s arrest for failing to appear in court. To his defence.
The riot act
However, before what he described as an expedited trial scheduled to begin on 13e In February 2023, Judge Ekwo granted five consecutive days (February 13-17) to the defendants to plead their case and the prosecution to begin the trial.
The judge who has already warned attorneys for the parties involved to prepare for the scheduled daily trial also read out a riot statement, saying he would not accept any objections to the admissibility of documentary evidence.
He further explained that the long adjournment was intended to give the prosecution and defense teams sufficient time to prepare for the trial.
He was quoted as saying, “The objection to the admissibility of documentary evidence will be taken at the end of the trial.”
He then ordered the prosecution attorney to bind and paginate all the documentary evidence of the prosecution witnesses. »
According to the report, around 32 witnesses are expected to testify against Ms Oduah and her co-defendants when the full-scale trial begins.
The review of the charges said CCECC Nigeria Limited allegedly transferred more than 2.5 billion naira into the naira account of a private bank candidate between March 31 and June 6, 2014.
The EFCC in the 25 counts charged them with conspiracy to commit money laundering, transfer, takeover and possession of proceeds of fraud, aid and encouraging money laundering and opening anonymous bank accounts.
Specifically, the prosecution alleged in two of the 25 counts that Ms. Oduah and Ms. Odita opened anonymous dollar and naira “Private Banking Nominee” accounts with First Bank, thereby committing an offense contrary to the Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 11(4) (a) of the same Act.
The examination of the charges showed that CCECC Nigeria Limited allegedly transferred more than 2.5 billion naira into the naira account of a private bank candidate between March 31 and June 6, 2014.
In seven of the counts where CCECC is charged individually and along with Ms. Oduah and Ms. Oditah, the company was charged with conspiring with the defendants to commit money laundering and transferring directly to the Private Banking Nominee Account various sums of money totaling N2,583,385,246 which he “reasonably should have known to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activity, namely: fraud…”
The Prosecution alleged for example in Count 17, that CCECC Nigeria, “on various dates between 5th March 2014 and 30th May 2014 ‘in Abuja’ directly transferred the sum of N868409 349.00 from your account with Zenith Bank Place at Private Banking Nominee account 2024414450 domiciled with First Bank Plc, which you reasonably should have known to be part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, namely: fraud…”
In another count, he alleged that Ms. Oduah and Ms. Odita, on various dates between March and May 2014, “took control of the sum of N1,225,347,524 transferred from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation bank account (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd with Zenith Bank Plc to Private Banking Nominee Account No. 2024414450 domiciled with First Bank Plc, which you should reasonably have known to be part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, namely: fraud… »
He also alleged that under similar circumstances, Ms. Oduah and Ms. Odita, between 31 March and 1 April 2014 in Abuja “took control of N500,000,000 directly transferred from GTB account number 0033880295 ‘belonging to CCECC to’ Private Banking Nominee account number 2024414450 domiciled with First Bank Plc.
Many counts have focused on transactions involving more than 2.4 billion naira that stemmed from I-See Security’s bank account, but had nothing to do with CCECC.
In one of the other counts, for example, Ms Oduah and Ms Odita allegedly on 26 February 2014 used their “positions to transfer the sum of N838,000,000 from Broadwaters Resources Limited account number 2023201064 at First Bank to Sobora International Ltd Account Number 2022354121 also domiciled with First Bank Plc” when they should reasonably know that the money was part of the proceeds of the fraud.
The prosecution also accused the pair of using their “positions” to transfer “the sum of N1,629,250 from I-See Security Nig. Ltd account number 2021756955 with First Bank Plc to Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account number 2022977296 also domiciled with First Bank Plc” on February 12, 2014.
He also alleged that Tip Top Global Resources Ltd on 17 April 2014 “took possession of N780,000,000 transferred from account number 0042101097 with Global Offshore’s Diamond Bank Plc and Marine Ltd account number 2022977296 domiciled with First Bank” in fraudulent circumstances.
Similarly, the EFCC alleged that Nwobu Nnamdi, Chukwuma Chinyere and Crystal Television Limited on 28 April 2014 “took control of the sum of N840,613,092.28 transferred to Crystal Television Ltd account number 2022332068 at First Bank Plc of Global Offshore and Marine Ltd No 202977296 with First Bank Plc.
He also accused Ms. Odita of aiding and abetting Ms. Oduah to transfer N780,000,000 from the Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account to the Tip Top Global Resources account on April 16, 2014, and to transfer N840,613,092.28 from the account. Global Offshore and Marine Ltd to Tip Account Top Global Resources Ltd on April 24.
Indicting those allegedly involved in all of the I-See Security transactions, the prosecution alleged that Ms. Oduah, while serving as Minister of Aviation; Gloria Odita, while she was General Secretary of SPGC and assistant to Ms. Oduah; Nwobu Nnamdi, when he was an employee of the SPGC and assistant to the former minister; Chukwuwumba Chinyere, Global Offshore And Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global resources Ltd, Crustal Television Ltd and Sobora International Ltd, between January and April 2014 in Abuja, “conspired between you to commit an offense namely: money laundering”.
The offense of conspiracy to commit money laundering was contrary to section 18(a) and punishable under section 15(3) and (4) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 money (ban) (as amended).
The EFCC said the transfer of funds which the defendant should know were part of the proceeds of illegal activities, violated Article 15(2)(b) and was punishable under Article 15(3). ) of the same law.
He added that taking control of these funds is contrary to Article 18(a) and punishable under Article 15(3) of the same law, and that possession of these fraudulent proceeds violates the section 15(2)(d) and is punishable under section 15(2)(d) section 15(4) of the Act.
According to the agency, the alleged offenses of aiding and abetting the transfer of fraud proceeds against Ms. Odita also violated section 15(2)(b) and are punishable under section 15( 3) of the law.
With additional reports: Premium Times