Alleged N6bn Mambilla Power Project Fraud: Court Dismisses Agunloye’s Fundamental Rights’ Suit Against EFCC  

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JUSTICE Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, 18 March 2024 dismissed an application of former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Ogunloye, alleging abuse of his fundamental rights and seeking to be shielded from investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ogunloye, in the application, sought the pronouncement of the court against his invitation, interrogation and prosecution by the EFCC in connection with the alleged award of Six Billion Naira (N6,000,000,000.00) contract in 2003 to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL) in his capacity as Minister of Power and Steel without the approval of the Federal Executive Council.

Additionally, he is also standing trial for allegedly receiving the sum of Three Million, Six Hundred Thousand Naira (N3,600,000.00) through his Guaranty Trust Bank account no.0022530926 from Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL) in 2019.

In a twist, the former minister instituted a matter of rights violation against the Commission, claiming that his invitation and interrogation were “arbitrary, malicious, unconstitutional, unlawful and constitute a gross violation” of his right to “dignity of the human person, personal liberty and freedom of movement.”

He further prayed the court “to restrain the EFCC from arresting, detaining, harassing, further inviting, interrogating, or inviting in order to arrest and or detain him with respect to the award of contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited.”

However, counsel to the EFCC, Abba Muhammed, in a counter-affidavit, informed the court that the EFCC was statutorily empowered by law to cause investigations to be conducted “as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any economic and financial crime.”

The EFCC counsel further argued that the Commission was simply investigating the role the applicant played in the award of the Mambila Project to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company.

The Commission, through its counsel, disclosed that Mr Agunloye curiously jumped the administrative bail it granted him on self-recognition, which he backed with a voluntary undertaking to provide a surety on or before 19 May 2023.

The applicant refused to return to the office of the respondent on 19 May 2023, as undertaken by him. Instead, he vanished and later served the respondent with his application for enforcement of fundamental rights on 22 June, 2023 pending before this honourable court thereby seeking to be shielded from criminal investigation by this honourable court.”

Justice Egwuatu, in his ruling, dismissed the fundamental rights suit against the EFCC and awarded a cost of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) in favour of the Commission against Mr Agunloye.

While noting that Mr Agunloye’s fundamental human right was not breached and that the investigation conducted by the EFCC was in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004, the judge commended the EFCC for the civility with which it treated Mr Agunloye and advised him to stop evading criminal investigation of the Commission as there was no fundamental right against criminal investigation.

The EFCC is prosecuting Mr Agunloye on seven-count charges bordering on alleged fraudulent award of contract and official corruption to the tune of Six billion Naira 

He was arraigned on Wednesday, 10 January 2024 before Justice J.O. Onwuegbuzie of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT)  High Court, Apo, Abuja.

 

Eighteen-Eleven Media 

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