Oduah Loses Bid to Stop Investigation of Armoured Cars Purchase


Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused the application of a former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah to stop the federal government from investigating her tenure as a minister between 2011 and 2015 and prosecuting her.

Justice Adamu Kafarati, in a judgment wednesday, held that the fundamental right enforcement suit by Oduah lacked merit.

Respondents in the case were the Attorney General of the federation (AGF), the Econonomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The judge upheld the objection raised by the respondents, to the effect that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to hear the case, which subject matter was outside the ambit of Chapter four of the Constitution.

Oduah (now a serving Senator from Anambra State) had, in the suit, urged the court to declare illegal the alleged plot by the respondents to arrest, investigate and prosecute her in relation to her activities while in office, particularly the controversial two amoured vehicles purchased.
The purchase of the amoured vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) while Oduah was in office was greeted by criticism. Some critics alleged that the prices of the vehicles were inflated.

Oduah had argued that the criminal allegations relating to her tenure as minister had been investigated by the EFCC and House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation and absolved her of any wrong doing.

She urged the court to declare that, having earlier been exonerated, any further investigation, arrest, harassment and prosecution of her person in relation to the same issue, amounted to the violation of her fundamental right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.

She prayed for an order prohibiting the respondents from inviting, arresting, otherwise harassing or prosecuting her over the matter.

Justice Kafarati, in upholding the preliminary objection by the AGF and the IGP agreed with them that Oduah could not come under the fundamental rights procedure to seek the reliefs she sought.
He said the subject matter of the case was not a fundamental rights issue.
The judge agreed that Oduah could not seek to restrain statutory bodies from performing their statutory responsibilities through a fundamental rights enforcement application.
He held that the case was without merit and dismissed it.