THE Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has taken over a N5 billion fraud case filed by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
The case was filed by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The AGF’s lawyer, David Kaswe, revealed this during the court proceedings on Tuesday, November 15.
He said the defendant’s case file had been requested in a letter to the EFCC.
According to Kaswe, the AGF could not start the trial because the commission had yet to release the case file.
He sought an adjournment, but trial judge Inyang Ekwo told him that the AGF was supposed to take over the matter following the court’s order.
Ekwo said since the AGF’s office was required to follow the directive, it was unnecessary to write the EFCC.
However, Kaswe claimed that his office had considered the recent leadership shift at the EFCC.
The judge then postponed the case until March 28, 2024.
The ICIR reported that the EFCC arraigned Oduah, her ex-aide, Gloria Odita, and seven others over alleged N5 billion naira fraud three years ago.
They were arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided by Inyang Ekwo, for money laundering, conspiracy, and maintaining anonymous bank accounts.
The 25-count charge was read to them by the court’s official.
Each defendant entered a not-guilty plea.
Other defendants include Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd, and Sobora International Ltd.
The EFCC alleged that Oduah misused government funds worth N5 billion while serving as a minister.
The charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020 was first filed in 2020.
The court mandated that the AGF’s office handle the prosecution of Oduah and others.
Ekwo gave the order after Oduah and her co-defendants were arraigned before him by the EFCC.
The judge claimed that the controversy surrounding the case’s prosecution played a role in his decision to assign the case to the AGF.
To ensure thorough prosecution of the accused, he instructed the EFCC to transmit the case file to the AGF’s office.
Between 2021 and 2023, the case was repeatedly set for arraignment, but it was postponed for several reasons.
In February 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan sacked Oduah as minister of aviation alongside three other cabinet members.
Oduah’s sack did not come as a surprise, as her approval to purchase two bullet-proof cars for N255 million caused public outrage in the country, with many Nigerians calling for her removal and prosecution.
The House of Representatives approved the recommendation of its aviation committee, asking for her removal following the controversial purchase of the two armored vehicles at an inflated N255 million.
Oduah had maintained she did nothing wrong.
She said the purchase was not done in her name.
The minister was also accused of forging her certificates.