N5bn fraud: Presiding Judge in Stella Oduah’s case warns against privacy breach

The judge of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Inyang Ekwo, has warned people against sending him private messages regarding the N5bn suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against Stella Oduah and others.

Ekwo, who described the action of those sending him the private messages as an intrusion of his privacy, gave the warning after the counsel for Oduah (1st defendant), Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), and that of Crystal Television Limited (7th defendant), Ogwu Onoja (SAN), confirmed that moves were on to resolve the matter without going through a trial.

While condemning the act, Ekwo noted that his records were public documents that could be assessed by anybody after complying with public laws.

Also condemning the act, the prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), who appeared for the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, said even if the person was a party in the suit, he had no right to communicate with the judge.

At the commencement of the proceeding, Liman informed the court that the matter was slated for the formal arraignment of the defendants pursuant to the order, adding that he was ready to proceed.

But in his remark, Ikpeazu said there were applications they planned to file and that they felt a discussion should be had on it with the prosecution.

Representing the 7th defendant, Onoja told the court that his client had approached the anti-graft agency and paid almost 95 per cent of the money alleged in the case.

He said that the commission’s response was being awaited, adding that about N80m was remaining.

Affirming Onoja’s statement, Liman confirmed the counsel had written to the EFCC to seek the discontinuance of the matter. The lawyer, however, ruled that the defendants must take their plea once the matter had been filed in court.

Noting that he was ready for arraignment, Ekwo said if dialogue failed, the trial could commence and adjourned the matter till June 15 for report or commencement of trial.

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