By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, yesterday, arraigned an American based businesswoman, Isabella Oshodin, over an alleged N22.9billion fraud by the Federal Government.
The prosecution agency said in the charge sheet, the defendant was arraigned on a 25 count charge bordering on sales of a furniture manufacturing company to the Federal Government to the tune of $55m dollars.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges when read out to her.
The EFCC said the husband of the accused Bob Oshodin is still at large, According to the EFCC, the defendant was said to have sold the company to the Federal government in 2014 and received the alleged sum through the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) then under Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).
The anti-graft agency also alleged that the defendant received the said amount in about 16 tranches through her family company, Bob Oshodin Organization Limited, which is the 1st defendant in the charge.
The defendant was alleged to have on the 16 occasions, received the sums of N500,000,000; N750,000,000; N125,000,000; N350,000,000; N170,000,000; N85,000,000; N60,000,000; N50,000,000 and others which totalled N2,366,000,000 from the Office of the National Security
Adviser, ONSA under Dasuki (retd). The anti-graft agency further alleged that the defendant on eight occasions received from Dasuki’s ONSA sums totalling $57,217,301.15 into the Escrow accounts of Bob Oshodin Organisation Ltd.
After pleading not guilty, prosecution counsel, Aisha Habib prayed the court for a date for trial.
Defense counsel, Osahon Idemudia, prayed the court to admit the defendant to bail in liberal terms pending the determination of the trial.
Idemudia, while moving the bail application drew the attention of the judge to the fact that the defendant has been in the underground cell of the EFCC for about 70 days without electricity.
He further told the court that the alleged offence borders on civil contract freely entered by the Federal Government and that the defenfant is committed to accelerated trial to enable her clear her name from the allegations.
He however debunked the anti-graft agency’s claim that Mrs Oshodin jumped the administrative bail granted her by the agency, adding that the EFCC did not make any attempt directly to get her, but only directed her surety to produce her.
Idemudia therefore pleaded with the court to use its discretion in favour of the defendant especially on conditions of her ill-health.
The prosecution however objected to the bail application on the grounds that the defendant may likely jump bail if granted because her husband and all her children are based in the United States of America.
Habib however submitted that if the court was inclined to grant the application, it should do so with some conditions that will ensure the defenfant is available for trial.
The trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo after listening to both parties adjourned till tomorrow for ruling on the bail application.
The court also ordered that the defendant remain in the custody of the Commission till the next adjourned date.