A Nigeria Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from inviting a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, for questioning.
Justice Mohammed Yunusa ordered the EFCC to stay action on Oduah as regards the purchase of two armoured BMW cars at a cost of N160m in 2013 by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority under her watch.
The order, made on August 26, 2015, is also binding on the ICPC, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police.
The judge said it would remain in force pending the determination of the main suit filed by Oduah, through her counsel, Mr. R.A. Oluyede.
In her statement of claim, Oduah, who is currently in the Senate representing Anambra North Senatorial District, said there was a move by the respondents, doing the bidding of her political adversaries, to persecute and humiliate her.
She said this persecution, which began in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, was spearheaded by the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, who was then Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairman, House’s Aviation Committee.
According to Oduah, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in a desperate bid to capture power, began a campaign of calumny by “demonising the most visible leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including myself and others, who were seen as pivotal to the re-election bid of then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.”
She said as part of the APC’s campaign of calumny, the party’s leadership commissioned some faceless organisations to write letters to the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, accusing her of “all manners of corrupt practices and offences in respect of my stewardship as Minister of Aviation.”
Oduah said despite her selfless service and the immense progress made under her watch, including the revamping of the country’s air transportation, Tambuwal still ordered her investigation, based on the petitions containing “spurious and wild allegations.”
She said because of her electoral value and strategic politicking, she had been a target of the ploy by the APC to depopulate the PDP and distract its leaders with trumped up charges.
According to her, part of the APC plan was to charge PDP leaders “in a criminal trial in a Lagos State Government-controlled court.”
Oduah, explained that the two armoured BMW purchased for N160 million, was for the purpose of conveying officials of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, who were in the country at the time for the routine inspection and certification of the 22 airports in the country, which were being rehabilitated under her watch.
She said the purchase of the armoured vehicles was necessitated to safeguard the lives of the foreign officials, since the inspection and certification of the airports coincided with “the peak of Boko Haram terrorists’ menace in the country, when the United Nations building and the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force were bombed in Abuja.”