The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on Tuesday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, alleging in her fundamental rights claim that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was behind the bid to have her arrested and prosecuted.
Arguing the AGF’s opposition to the suit, Tijani Gazali urged the court not to grant Oduah’s application. He said the former Minister’s claim was unsubstantiated, and that she should have joined APC in her suit to enable the party to defend itself.
“We urge the court to uphold the preliminary objection and decline jurisdiction,” Gazali continued. “The applicant said the concoction of evidence to implicate her happened at APC caucus meeting, and that she was informed by a chieftain of APC.
“APC is not before my lord to refute or admit the claims. APC should have been joined as a respondent to admit or refute the allegations against them.”
Lagos-based TheNation newspaper reports that Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) G. K. Lotona, also urged the court to decline jurisdiction, as the issues Oduah complained about occurred in Abuja the suit ought properly to have been instituted there.
Citing Order 2 (1) of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure, the lawyer said: “Any applicant who alleges breach or likely breach of his fundamental rights may apply to the court in the state where the infringement occurred or is likely to occur.
Oduah said there was a plot to arrest her over the 2013 purchase of two armoured BMW cars by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) under her watch. The vehicles were said to have cost N255million, an amount that sparked huge outrage.
The former minister, who represents Anambra North Senatorial District in the Senate, said the vehicles were bought for the use and safety of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) officials who were in the country to inspect and certify the 22 airports being rehabilitated under her watch.
It would be recalled that following an investigation, Oduah was indicted by the House of Representatives, and subsequently fired by President Jonathan.
Oduah claims that the bid to arrest her for what she termed a crime she did not commit began as the 2015 general elections approached. She said that was when the House, which was then led by Aminu Tambuwal (now Sokoto State governor), and its Committee on Aviation, set out to indict her. According to her, the lawmakers’ move was part of APC’s grand plan to capture power by all means.
The party, she claimed, carried out a campaign of calumny by “demonising” the most visible leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Being a frontline PDP member, she also became a target, especially as she was seen as playing a crucial role towards the realisation of President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid.
She said that as part of the APC’s campaign of calumny against her and others, the party’s leadership commissioned some faceless organisations to write letters to the House Committee on Aviation.
Among others, she said she was falsely accused of “all manners of corrupt practices and offences in respect of my stewardship as Minister of Aviation.”
Oduah said was shocked by the allegations because the aviation ministry under her watch was run in the “cleanest manner” imaginable.
Justice Okon Abang adjourned to January 25 for judgment.
It would also be recalled that following SaharaReporters’ breaking of the story of Oduah’s N255million car purchase, we broke another in January 2014 that for her confirmation as Minister, she lied to the Senate about having earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) at St. Paul’s College Lawrenceville, Virginia, in the United States. Contacted, authorities of the institution laughed off the claim, saying the institution could not have awarded Oduah such a degree as the university did not run a graduate school let alone a graduate programme.
Asked about that by online journal naij.com, in an interview published this week, Oduah returned to her buffet of lies.
“I couldn’t react [to the exposure by SaharaReporters] because I found it mean and just unfounded,” she said about our story. “At a point, I began to doubt myself that maybe there is something about me that I do not know or maybe Sahara knows more than I do or they attended school with me? So I called the guy that did my documentation to go through my file to check if I did something wrong. He asked why and I told him to pull up Sahara and see if my documents are forged. So the guy called me back and laughed and said “oh is it Sahara?” I said yes, because the stories are just getting too much. So when I was got the satisfaction that it could not have been me that they were talking about, I made up my mind not to allow anyone define me. It’s either you accept it or not. So that story was absolutely untrue. In all these they didn’t ask me so I can be quoted, so it’s not true…”
SaharaReporters reasserts that the MBA certificate of now Senator Oduah, allegedly from St. Paul’s College Lawrenceville, is a forgery, and that following our story, evidence emerged that she tried to scrub clean her biographies on the Internet.
We invite her to challenge this assertion with unassailable legal evidence, not propaganda or manipulation.