20th October, 2021
By Taiye Agbaje/Abuja
A Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday fixed 22 Nov. for the arraignment of ex-Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, over allegations of fraud while she served in the office.
Although Oduah, who currently represents Anambra North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, was scheduled for arraignment before Justice Inyang Ekwo on Tuesday, the proceeding could not take place due to a public holiday.
However, a check at the court on Wednesday by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that the matter, though not on the cause list, had been fixed for Nov. 22 and Nov 23 for trial.
Justice Ekwo had, on July 12, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against the former minister if she failed to appear in court by the next adjourned date (Oct. 19).
The judge had given the warning after Dr Hassan Liman, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the alleged N5 billion trial against Oduah and eight others told the court that Oduah and one other defendant were not in court to take their plea.
The court had earlier fixed Feb. 9 for the arraignment of the former minister.
But because she was not served with the court processes then, the arraignment could not go on.
The court also fixed April 19 for the arraignment but due to the strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the matter could not hold.
The lawmaker is facing a fraud charge alongside others.
The anti-corruption agency is alleging that Oduah misappropriated public funds to the tune of N5 billion while serving as Minister of Aviation.
When the matter was called in the last adjourned date, Liman, who informed that the case was scheduled for arraignment, said the anti-corruption agency had carried out the court order made on Feb. 9.
“On Feb. 22, 2020, my lord made an order of substituted service on the 5th and 6th defendants in the trial.
“We have carried out the order my lord,” he had said.