Former minister of Power, Olu Agunloye on Monday asked a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Apo District of Abuja to prohibit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, from trying him for an alleged $6bn Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station fraud.
Agunloye said through a preliminary objections filed by his lawyer Adeola Adedipe that EFCC lacked power to investigate and try alleged offences committed before the establishment of the commission.
Meanwhile,the trial court judge Jude Onwuegbuzie on Monday declined to hear the preliminary objection on the ground that the application was not ripe for hearing.
Jude Onwuegbuzie subsequently adjourned the matter till February 26, 2024 for hearing.
In the preliminary objection, Agunloye is seeking an order prohibiting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, from prosecuting or further prosecuting the instant charge against him.
The lawyer said EFCC lacked both investigative and prosecutorial powers under Sections 6, 7 & 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 count in the charges bothered on an alleged disobedience of the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 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.
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.
He pleaded not guilty to the offences.