Olu Agunloye, Nigeria’s power minister, has found himself at odds with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following his arraignment on charges related to the controversial $6 billion Mambilla hydropower project.
Agunloye maintains his innocence, arguing that the accusations against him do not constitute financial crimes and therefore fall outside the EFCC’s jurisdiction.
He said, “The alleged offences in this charge, bother on my activities as a public officer, on the alleged award of contract without budgetary provision, approval and cash backing.”
“It also bothers on alleged disobedience of the directives of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and forgery of a letter dated 22nd May 2003.
“These allegations do not constitute financial crimes, which can be lawfully investigated and prosecuted by the EFCC, under its powers under Sections 6, 7 and 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act and in consonance with the Supreme Court’s decision in Nwobike v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2022) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1826) 293.
“Not having the mandatory statutory powers to investigate the allegations in this charge ab initio, I know that the purported investigation and current prosecution of this Charge by the EFCC is ultra vires its powers,” Agunloye said.
He also said he is old and should endure terrifying procedural irregularities that can be rectified early.
“I am an old man of 76 years old, who ought not to be subjected to harrowing fundamental procedural anomalies that can be resolved at an early stage,” Agunloye said.
“It will be fair and just for this honourable court to first determine and render a decision on this threshold issue of EFCC’s competence to investigate and prosecute this case. It is in the interest of justice to grant this application.”
Additionally, he is asking for an immediate dismissal of the charges against him.
Jude Onwuegbuzie, the presiding judge, stated at the Monday court session that the application was not ready for a hearing, and postponed the hearing to February 26.