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Ex-minister Agunloye seeks AGF, NBA, others’ intervention in alleged $6bn fraud

A former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, charged with six billion dollars of Mambilla Hydroelectric Plant fraud, has sought the intervention of the Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.

He also sought the intervention of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Maikyau, SAN; a former Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN; and Joseph Daudu, SAN.

Agunloye is challenging the powers of the EFCC to prosecute him in the charge before an FCT High Court.

The EFCC is prosecuting Agunloye, who served as a minister in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on certain infractions regarding the Mambilla power plant.

The former minister is charged with forgery, disobedience of presidential order, and corruption.

The EFCC accused the former minister of awarding a contract for the construction of a 3,960 MW Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station on a build, operate, and transfer basis to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited without any budgetary provision, approval, or cash backing.

The prosecution also alleged that it traced some suspicious payments made by Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited to the former minister’s accounts.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the prosecuting counsel, Abba Mohammed, informed the court that the case was slated for hearing of two motions filed by the defendant on variation of his bail conditions and preliminary objection to the charge.

He told the court that the prosecution had filed counter affidavits to the two motions.

Responding, counsel for Agunloye, Adeola Adedipe SAN, informed me that he filed a fresh motion on behalf of the former minister, urging the court to invite amicus curiae, friends of the court, to be present while hearing the preliminary objection.

He added that the application was special and had to be heard before the preliminary objection could be heard by the court.

In spite of expressing the prosecution’s readiness for the defendant’s three motions to be heard, Adedipe insisted that the preliminary objection could only be heard after the motion seeking amicus curiae is heard and determined.

Following the development, Justice Onwuegbuzie adjourned the case to March 21 for hearing Agunloye’s fresh application.

In the fresh motion filed by Adedipe, Agunloye is seeking an order of the court for leave to hear his preliminary motion on notice, filed on February 8, 2024, with motion number M/3736/2024, with the participation or contribution from Amici Curiae, some of which should include the AGF, Maikyau, Agabi, and Daudu.

He also seeks an order of the court inviting and/or requesting contributions from the aforelisted amici curiae and such other friend(s) of the court that may be invited at the court’s discretion for the purpose of hearing his preliminary motion on notice.

He cited that the motion was brought pursuant to relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Adedipe argued for the court to grant the orders sought in the overall interest of justice, the sanctity of the bench, the preservation of the Constitution, and the sustenance of the rule of law.

He hinged the application on the grounds that the Supreme Court‘s decision on Nwobike vs. FRN “weighs heavily on the delimited power of the EFCC under Sections 6, 7, and 46 of the EFCC Act, 2004 to investigate and prosecute a case of this nature, more particularly because the EFCC was the prosecuting agency in the said decision.”.

He further said to others that whatever the court arrives at, in respect of the preliminary motion on notice, “will project a major test on the integrity of our courts, rule of law, sanctity, and authority of the bench, with far-reaching effects on the doctrine of judicial precedents and the administration of criminal justice.”.

Responding, the EFCC counsel, Mohammed, told the court that the anti-graft agency would respond to the fresh motion filed by the defense.(NAN)

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