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Thursday 6 October 2016

N255m Armoured Cars: Court Refuses to Stop Oduah's Imminent Arrest

Stella Oduah
Former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah could be whisked away any moment from now concerning the fraud allegations surrounding her purchase of exotic bullet-proof cars while in office. A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed an application by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, asking ‎for an order stopping the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the police from arresting her with respect to ongoing investigation into corruption allegation against her.
The case of fraud has been lingering over the years with no breakthrough by anti-graft agencies investigating the alleged abuse of the commonwealth.

Oduah had filed the fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to prohibit the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office, the EFCC, and the police from “inviting, arresting, investigating or prosecuting” her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at a cost of N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch as the Aviation Minister in 2013.

A similar fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by the former minister, who is now a Senator representing Anambra North, was earlier struck out by Justice Okon Abang, then sitting in the Lagos Division, on February 17, 2016, for want of territorial jurisdiction according to the Punch.

Justice Abdu Kafarati in his judgment on Wednesday, upheld the objection raised by the respondents, to the effect that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to hear the case because the prayer sought in it was outside the ambit Chapter 4 of the Constitution which captured enforceable rights of persons.

He held that no court had the power to stop security agencies from carrying out their duty of investigation. He also said such prayer could not constitute a fundamental rights action.

He said it was in the interest of a person suspected of crimes to be invited by the investigating agency so that the suspect could give his or her own side of the story. He added that the suit did not disclose any reasonable cause of action.

He said, “It is not grantable by this court because the court cannot stop security agencies from carrying out their duties. There is no way a person can be investigated without being invited by (the) body charged with the responsibility of investigation.

“In most cases, the invitation is even in the interest of the invitee because he or she will have the opportunity of giving his or her side of the story.

“I therefore hold that the application seeking to stop security agencies from inviting, investigating, arresting and/or prosecuting any person suspected to have committed an offence does not constitute a fundamental right action.”

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