Former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye has challenged the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him on the alleged $6 billion fraud linked to the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power project.
Agunloye is being tried by the EFCC with respect to the unauthorised award of the contract to Sunrise Power and has denied the charges.
In a preliminary objection made before an FCT High Court, Agunloye through his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, is seeking an order prohibiting the EFCC from prosecuting or further prosecuting the instant charge against him.
He added that the commission lacks both investigative and prosecutorial powers under Sections 6, 7 and 46 of the EFCC Act, 2004.
Agunloye 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.
He further said that another of the charges bordered on alleged disobedience of the directives of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and 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.
On Monday, however, Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie declined to hear his preliminary objection, saying the application was not ripe for hearing.
The case was subsequently adjourned till 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 also 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.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.