By Simeon OSAJIE
Senator Stella Oduah, former Aviation Minister, and others today, Friday 21st July, 2023 pleaded not guilty to a N5 billion fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Recall Oduah and eight others were arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, by the EFCC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had, on Monday, reported that Justice Ekwo fixed the date after a counsel that appeared for EFCC, Hassan Liman SAN, prayed the court to allow the defendants to take their plea, having filed the charge against them since December 17, 2020.
Arraigned alongside the ex-lawmaker, who represented Anambra North Senatorial District at the 9th National Assembly, were Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere.
Others include Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and others.
Oduah was arraigned on alleged N5 billion fraud and financial misappropriation while she served as Minister during the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.
In the 25-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020, they are accused of conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.
After taking their plea, Justice Ekwo ordered that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) take over the matter, adding that the EFCC should transfer the case file to the AGF in two weeks.
While upholding the existing administrative bail conditions granted them by the EFCC, the court also ordered that the terms of conditions be made available to the AGF.
The court subsequently adjourned the case for trial on October 17, 2023.