Home Politics Court Denies Ex-Minister, Olu Agunloye, Bid to Stop N6bn Mambilla Fraud Trial

Court Denies Ex-Minister, Olu Agunloye, Bid to Stop N6bn Mambilla Fraud Trial

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By Uche Amunike

The Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja has denied former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, hearing of a preliminary objection which he filed to stop the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from prosecuting him for an alleged fraud of N6 billion in connection with the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station.

Recall that the EFCC arraigned Agunloye on January 10 on seven counts bordering on ‘fraudulent award of contract and official corruption.’

In one of the charges, the EFCC alleged that the former minister awarded a contract on May 22, 2003 to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited ‘without any budgetary provision, approval and cash backing.’ The contract was titled ‘Construction of 3960mw Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station on a Build, Operate and Transfer Basis.’

In a different count, the former minister who served during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was alleged to have ‘corruptly received the sum of N3.6m from Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited and Leno Adesanya for having conveyed the ‘approval of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the construction of the 3,960 megawatts Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station’ in favour of SPTCL’, on August 10, 2019.

According to the EFCC, Olu Akintoye acted without the approval of the Federal Executive Council. He however denied the accusations and maintained that the former president was distorting facts. He pleaded ‘Not guilty’ to the charges.

A lot of Nigerians reacted to the case after it was posted on X. Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka in his view, stated that the action taken by the EFCC was questionable. He also released a public statement to that effect.

In the statement, which he titled: ‘In pursuit of justice, productivity, under the rule of law’, Soyinka argued that the practice of citizen detention at the whim of either religious blackmail or secular arrogation demands curtailment at source, most especially when exercised in defiance of the law, and the pronouncements of its agencies.

He stated: ‘The immediate provocation for these reflections is the ongoing predicament of a former Minister of Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, currently detained by the EFCC, in total contempt of sense and justice, or indeed, basic humane considerations. We shall not go into the merit or demerits of the charges raised against him over a 16-year-old project that bears the name Mambilla. –that is the business of the law courts.’

He further wrote: ‘Our concern at this moment is however only partially on the basis of individual fundamental human rights. Most fortuitously, the detention of any former public servant under circumstances such as Agunloye also provokes the question: how is public interest – such as the pursuit of justice – served by such an arbitrary exercise of power?’

Court hearing was resumed on Monday, where Olu Agunloye brought a preliminary objection through his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, praying the court should stop his trial. He put up the argument that the EFCC lacked both investigative and prosecutorial powers in his client’s case.’

Hear him: ‘These allegations do not constitute financial crimes, which can be lawfully investigated and prosecuted by the EFCC, pursuant to its powers under Sections 6, 7, and 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act.’

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