• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Ex-minister of power, collapses in court, delays arraignment for alleged N33.8bn fraud

Ex-minister of power, collapses in court, delays arraignment for alleged N33.8bn fraud

The scheduled arraignment of Saleh Mamman, the former minister of Power under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, was postponed on Thursday at the Federal High Court in Abuja due to his ill health.

Mamman, who was supposed to enter his plea that morning, collapsed outside the courtroom shortly before the session began. His counsel, Femi Ate, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), informed James Omotosho, the ruling judge, of Mamman’s condition as the case was called.

When the session resumed, Mamman entered the courtroom with his clothes partially soaked. Omotosho inquired why Mamman was wet, to which the former minister responded that water had been poured on him.

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Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), acknowledged the development outside the courtroom, noting a discussion with Ate about Mamman’s health.

Ate explained that Mamman collapsed upon arriving at the court premises and required resuscitation and medical attention from the Federal High Court’s medical personnel. He added that Mamman had only been served with the charge after being resuscitated.

Ate requested an adjournment for the arraignment to be rescheduled for Monday, allowing Mamman time to recover.

However, Omotosho, citing a heavy court docket, suggested an arraignment date at the end of September. Ate subsequently withdrew the oral application for an adjournment.

Olumide-Fusika mentioned filing an amended charge earlier in the morning due to a name error on the initial charge. He requested the court to read the fresh charge to Mamman, but Justice Omotosho declined.

The judge inquired if Mamman was fit to proceed with the arraignment, to which Mamman affirmed. Mamman explained that his collapse was due to taking medication on an empty stomach, which caused his blood pressure to drop while waiting outside the courtroom.

Mamman informed the court about the error in the name on the charge served to him. Justice Omotosho then postponed the arraignment until 1 PM on the same day.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the EFCC has charged Mamman with 12 counts of money laundering, alleging that he was involved in laundering N33 billion.

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Mamman served as Minister of Power from 2019 to 2021. He was detained by the EFCC on May 10, 2021, following his removal from office by President Buhari on September 1, 2021, in a cabinet reshuffle.

Mamman is accused of collaborating with ministry staff to divert around N22 billion from the Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro Electric Power projects. Investigations have uncovered properties linked to the suspects both in Nigeria and abroad, with significant amounts of money reportedly recovered.