$6 Billion Power Project Fraud: Court Dismisses Former Power Minister Olu Agunloye’s Objection To EFCC Prosecution

Olu Agunloye.webp

The Federal Capital Territory High Court, located in Apo, Abuja, dismissed a preliminary objection by former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, on Wednesday.

Naijaonpoint reports that the objection challenged the authority of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him over the alleged $6 billion Mambilla Power Project contract scandal.

Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie delivered the ruling, rejecting Agunloye’s claims for lacking merit and affirmed the statutory powers of the EFCC under Sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004.

These sections grant the Commission comprehensive investigative and prosecutorial capabilities concerning economic and financial crimes.

The case, which has attracted significant attention, involves Agunloye facing a seven-count charge related to alleged fraudulent activities linked to the Mambilla Power Project contract award.

On February 8, 2024, Agunloye, represented by his counsel Adeola Adedipe (SAN), had moved to challenge the EFCC’s jurisdiction over his case and the legal boundaries of the court trying him.

However, the EFCC’s prosecution counsel, Abba Muhammed, countered on February 22, 2024, stating that the motion was not only incompetent but also contrary to the provisions of Section 115(2) of the Evidence Act.

Justice Onwuegbuzie, in his verdict, emphasized the EFCC’s role in tackling all forms of economic and financial crimes, stating, “Since the instant charges brought against the defendant are economic and financial crimes in nature, the motion brought by the defendant lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”

Furthermore, the court addressed the issue regarding the prosecution fiat obtained from the Office of the Auditor-General rather than the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

The judge clarified that in the absence of the AGF, any state, authority, or individual has the right to initiate criminal prosecutions.

“Even if the charge has no seal of the Attorney-General of the Federation, that does not stop the potency of the charge, as the Attorney-General may decide on any member of his department he wishes to delegate his powers to carry out his duties by law,” Justice Onwuegbuzie elaborated.

The trial is set to continue on May 30, 2024, as all parties prepare for further legal proceedings in this high-profile case.