The trial of former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah, and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is set to commence at a Federal High Court in Abuja on October 17, 2023, following allegations of fraud, money laundering, and bribery amounting to N7.9 billion. The trial will be overseen by Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo.
CCECC is accused of bribing federal government officials with billions of naira through transfers from its bank accounts to beneficiaries involved in the corrupt scheme to secure government contracts.
Senator Oduah, who served as Minister of Aviation, is facing prosecution for allegedly accepting money from CCECC while in office. Unlike previous proceedings, this trial will be coordinated and conducted by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice on the order of the Federal High Court, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was instructed to step aside due to their involvement in actions that delayed the case for over two years.
On July 21, 2023, Mrs. Oduah and eight others, including Gloria Odita, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, Irene Chukwuma, and five companies (Global Offshore and Marine Limited, Tiptop Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited, and CCECC), pleaded not guilty to a 25-count charge of money laundering and other financial misconduct brought against them by the EFCC. These charges included conspiracy, money laundering, and the maintenance of anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.
For instance, Count one of the charges states, “that you, Stella Adaeze Oduah whilst being the Minister of Aviation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gloria Odita whilst being the Company Secretary to Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC) and an aide to the former Minister of Aviation, Nwobu Emmanuel Nnamdi, whilst being an employee of Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd (SPGC) and an aide to the former Minister of Aviation, Chukwuma Irene Chinyere, Global Offshore And Marine Limited, Tiptop Global Resources Limited, Crystal Television Limited, Sobora International Limited between January 2014 and April 2014 at Abuja within the judicial division of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: ‘Money Laundering’ and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.”
Count 5 reads, “that you, Stella Adaeze Oduah whilst being the Minister of Aviation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, a Limited Liability Company registered under the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on or about 12th February 2014 at Abuja within the Judicial Division of this Honourable Court took control of the sum of N1,629,250,000.00 (One Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) only and paid into the account of Global Offshore and Marine Ltd account No. 2022977296 domiciled with First Bank Plc from I-Sec Security Nig. Ltd accounts No. 2021756955 with First Bank Plc, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.
Justice Ekwo granted bail to the defendants on the terms of the administrative bail previously offered by the EFCC, with the trial scheduled to begin on October 17. The charges were initially filed against Oduah and others on December 17, 2020, and the case has faced several delays and adjournments due to various reasons, including the unavailability of the defendants and negotiations for settlements.