• Monday, March 04, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Alleged $6bn fraud: Court declines Agunloye’s objection plea

Ali Bello vs EFCC: Court adjourns hearing to February 5 and 6 for continuation hearing

An FCT High Court on Monday declined to hear the preliminary objection raised by Olu Agunloye, a former minister of power and steel, challenging the powers of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him on the alleged $6 billion Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station fraud. The court said the application was not ripe for hearing.

Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie subsequently adjourned the matter until February 26.

In the preliminary objection, Agunloye through his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, is seeking an order prohibiting the EFCC from prosecuting or further prosecuting the instant charge against him.

He added that they lacked both investigative and prosecutorial powers under Sections 6, 7 & 46 of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Agunloye also said the alleged offences in the charge were on his activities as a public officer where he was alleged to have awarded the contract without budgetary provision, approval, and cash backing.

The other charges according to him, bothered an alleged disobedience of the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and forgery of a letter dated May 22, 2003

“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 and in consonance with the Supreme Court’s decision in Nwobike v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2022) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1826) 293,” he added.

Agunloye was arraigned on seven counts bordering on the fraudulent award of a contract and official corruption in January 2024.

The EFCC alleged that on May 22, 2003, Agunloye awarded a contract, titled “Construction of 3,960mw Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station on a Build, Operate and Transfer Basis” to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited without any budgetary provision, approval, and cash backing.

Agunloye was equally alleged to have on August 10, 2019, 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, which was done without the approval of the Federal Executive Council.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the allegations preferred against him. NAN