Security concerns: Court suspends Stella Oduah’s arraignment

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday, again suspended the planned arraignment of a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah and others over alleged N7.9 billion fraud charges, citing security reasons.

Trial judge in the matter is Justice Inyang Ekwo.

The judge said the court would not continue with the trial until it was certain and satisfied that the security and safety of the persons involved in the trial was assured.

At the last adjourned date, Justice Ekwo had complained about receiving private messages regarding the case from persons whose identities he did not disclose, while warning them to desist from intruding on his privacy.

At Thurday’s proceeding Justice Ekwo voiced his anger that the prosecution failed to fish out the culprits.

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“I want you to find out who that character is, arrest him and bring him to court on the next date. I am not going to go on with this trial until I am certain and satisfied that the security and safety of all the persons involved in the trial is assured,” he said.

Justice Ekwo produced a publication wherein his life was severely threatened over his involvement in the trial.

He urged the EFCC to fish out the culprits and bring them before the court.

He also ordered the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court to liaise with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to obtain the identities of the promoters of the offending publication.

Before the case was adjourned, counsel to the seventh defendant, intimated the court of a letter wherein he informed the court that his client, Crystal Television, had entered into a plea bargain with the EFCC and already paid N100million as part-payment for compounding the offence contained in the charge.

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Part of the letter reads: “Sequel to our letter dated May 22, 2023, on the above matter, we hereby forward, under the covering of this letter, a Zenith Bank Manager’s Cheque (Bank draft) Nos. 00009061, 00009063, 00009065, 00009066, 00009068, 00009070, 00009071, 00009072 and 00009073, all dated May 2023, in the sum of N100million, as part payment for compounding of offenses contained in the above charge.”

The letter further stated that, “Pursuant to all previous payments and the one referred to herein, our client has the sum of N280million balance payment and the same shall be paid as soon as possible.”

The judge adjourned the matter till July 17, 2023, for the CAC to report on the owners of the organisation, and the EFCC to fish out the culprits.

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