Politics

BREAKING: Ex-Minister, Agunloye, asks court to prohibit EFCC from prosecuting him

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.