A former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye, on Monday, in Abuja has asked the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to prohibit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from prosecuting him in the alleged $6 billion fraud.
Agunloye, who was put on trial by the anti-corruption agency on the alleged $6bn Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station fraud, is claiming that EFCC lacked the power to proceed with the trial.
He predicated his opposition to trial by EFCC on various grounds in his motion on notice for preliminary objections.
In the objection notice filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Adeola Adedipe on his behalf, Agunloye insisted that the EFCC lacked both investigative and prosecutorial powers under Sections 6, 7 & 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.
He 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 former Minister said the charges bothered on alleged disobedience of the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 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.
At Monday’s proceedings, the former Minister, through his counsel, sought to move the motion for preliminary objections.
The move was, however, opposed by EFCC on the grounds that the motion was not yet ripe for hearing.
The claim of EFCC prompted Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie to shift the hearing in the preliminary objections to February 26, 2024.
Agunloye was arraigned on seven charges bordering on 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.
High Court Grants Bail To Ex-Kwara Gov, Abdulfatah Ahmed
Wild jubilation erupted at the Federal High Court in Ilorin on Friday as Justice Evelyn Anyadike granted bail to former Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged misappropriation of state funds.
He was arraigned on a 12-coumt charge alongside his former Commissioner of Finance, Ademola Banu, who was however, not in court.
The former governor pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him in court.
The trial judge granted Ahmed bail in the sum of N50 million, which must be in form of bond, and two sureties, one of who must have a landed property in Ilorin.
The former governor is also to deposit his international passport with the court registry amd seek permission if he wants to travel outside the country, as trial of his case begins on April 29 and 30, 2024.
Ahmed was driven to the command office of the anti-graft agency from the court premises after about 12.20 pm pending when the stringent bail conditions will be met.
In a chat with journalists outside the court, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, said Ahmed’s defence counsel, Kehinde Eleja, SAN, requested for the defendant’s bail application orally.
He said the court granted the bail on eight stringent conditions.
In his reaction, counsel to the former governor, Barrister Kehinde, said the arraignment was sequel to investigations into the case which started about five years ago.
“We made an oral application for the bail of the defendant, even though the prosecution said it was at the discretion of the court.
“The court, in its wisdom, after considering the arguments on both sides, decided to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant, especially in view of the antecedents of the first defendant (Abdulfatah Ahmed) who had always voluntarily responded to EFCC invitation, the last one being last Monday and for which period he has been in EFCC custody till today, Friday, that he was charged to court.
“The court also made an order granting accelerated hearing of the case,” he added.
Hardship: Naira Is Stabilising, FG’s Reforms Yielding Positive Results – Information Minister
…Insists FG Will Go After Saboteurs
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, says the Nigerian Government is identifying and sanctioning individuals sabotaging the economy.
The minister noted that the removal of the petrol subsidy was one policy decision that all the three major candidates agreed on in their campaign messages.
He said it was mystifying to see people who had argued stridently for the removal of subsidy now pretending to be against it, noting that such insincerity does not bode well for the country.
Idris insisted that the President’s policies are yielding positive results.
He, however, said that the government was not under any illusion that the policies are silver bullets, or that nothing else is required.
Stressing that the government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised, the minister said regulatory and enforcement agencies have been working round the clock in the past few days to identify, investigate and sanction those involved in illegal activities and sabotage within the forex market.
“As respected economists and experts have acknowledged, these foundational reforms will be difficult and painful for Nigerians in the short-term,” the Minister said in a statement he signed and made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday.
“The problems that we are solving are no doubt multifaceted, intertwined, and deep-rooted, requiring creative, strategic, decisive, and multi-pronged solutions. These bold moves being implemented are in full alignment with what is required.
“It is heartwarming to note that we are starting to see the results. Indeed, the naira is stabilizing, and the foreign exchange market is seeing a surge of inflows.
“Sadly, as with any effort to reform and sanitise a system entrenched in long-term malpractice, the CBN’s efforts have been met with ferocious resistance from speculators and other unscrupulous players within and outside our country, who profit from dysfunction and opacity.
“To tackle this, regulatory and enforcement agencies of government have been working round the clock in the past few days, joining forces to address these efforts at undermining the reforms.
“That strategic alliance has led to the intelligence-led identification, investigation and sanctioning of individuals and organizations involved in illegal activities and sabotage within the forex market.
“Relevant regulatory and security agencies have been directed to remain vigilant to ensure that malpractices capable of undermining our currency are averted and that those engaged in these acts are brought to book. The government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised
BREAKING: INEC Publishes Report Of 2023 General Election
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has released its report on the 2023 general election.
The commission said the publication of the report is in keeping with its tradition over the last four electoral cycles and commitment to transparency.
This was made known in a statement by Sam Olumekun, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.
Olumekun said the Report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress.
According to him, the 2023 general election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.
He said the document has been made accessible on its website and social media platforms.
“On Thursday, 22nd February 2024, the Commission convened for its weekly meeting, where the 2023 General Election Report was reviewed and approved for publication.
It partly read: “In keeping with our tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and our commitment to transparency, we are pleased to announce the release of the official INEC report on the 2023 General Election.
“This comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes and 10 graphs, offers an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, alongside valuable lessons learned.
“The Report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress. This election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.
“The Report underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), in enhancing electoral integrity and reducing fraud. Furthermore, it addresses public concerns about the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal, explaining the technical issues encountered during the upload of polling unit results for the presidential election.
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