Again, the arraignment of former aviation minister, Senator Stella Oduah, in a N7.9 billion corruption charge has been stalled in Abuja making it the sixth time.
The arraignment billed for today before Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja was rushed by a petition written against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by co-defendants to Mrs. Oduah in the criminal charges.
Shortly after Mrs. Oduah and three others were called into the dock to take their plea, counsel to seventh and eighth defendants, Ogwu James Onoja SAN, objected to the arraignment on the ground that his clients are being persecuted by the EFCC.
The senior lawyer insisted that the aggrieved defendants had petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami SAN, seeking a review of the charges against them.
Ogwu also informed Ekwo that the AGF, upon receipt of the petition, wrote the Executive Chairman of the EFCC to remit the case file to his office for a review adding that in flagrant disregard to the AGF letter, the anti-graft commission had bluntly refused to remit the case file.
He tendered a certified true copy of the AGF letter and received by the EFCC, urging the court not to go ahead with the arraignment until the petition has been resolved.
However, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Ofem Uket denied knowing anything about the AGF letter adding that as an employee of the EFCC, he was just sighting the letter for the first time in court.
The counsel urged the court to disregard the issue raised by the defendants and proceed to arraign them.
He said that the AGF would have come to the court if he had any opposition to the arraignment.
However, Justice Ekwo said that since the petition was raised as both a statutory and constitutional matter by the defendants, he would not proceed.
The judge then ordered that counsel in the matter file written addresses for and against the issue raised in the open court and exchange same on the competence of the charges.
Justice Ekwo fixed February 10, 2022, for the adoption of the written addresses and also ordered that Mrs. Oduah and other defendants should continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them.