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Alleged $6bn power contract fraud: Court grants ex-minister Olu Agunloye N50m bail

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Alleged $6bn power contract fraud: Court grants ex-minister Olu Agunloye N50m bail

A Federal Capital Territory erritory (FCT) High Court in Apo granted Olu Agunloye, ex-Minister of Power and Steel, N50 million bail.

Agunloye is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a $6 billion Mambilla hydropower contract.

He was arraigned on seven-count charges, bordering on fraudulent award of a contract and official corruption, on Wednesday.

The judge had ordered his remand in Kuje correctional centre pending hearing and ruling on the bail application.

Moving the application on Thursday, Adeola Adedipe, counsel to the former minister, prayed the court to grant bail to his client “by way of self-recognisance or in liberal terms”.

He said Argunloye is not a flight risk and that the notion canvassed by the prosecution was “borne out of misconception and communication barrier”.

Adedipe also appealed to the court not to order the use of a public servant as surety for his client.

Citing the case of Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA) in Dasuki v DG SSS (2020) Part 1731 NWLR, Adedipe submitted that public officers should not be used as sureties, because the court of appeal found such conduct to be “unknown to our laws”; especially because corruption is encouraged that way.

The senior lawyer also argued that the apprehensive misconception about bail and the mischief argued by the prosecution has been solved by Section 352( 4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Under this provision, Adeola said: “Once a defendant is admitted to bail, even if he absconds, trial will continue and he will be convicted where necessary”.

However, the prosecution counsel opposed the bail application.

Delivering ruling, Jude Onwuegbuzie, presiding judge, said the pendulum of the court swings in favour of granting bail to the defendant.

He granted N50 million bail to the defendant and ordered him to produce two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must be “reputable” and “people of means” resident within the FCT.

They must have properties worth N300 million with a Certificate of Occupancy that must be verifiable.

They must submit copies of their identity cards and photocopies of their international passports to the court.

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The defendant is to submit his international passport to the court and must be present for hearing at all times.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to February 12 for hearing.

The EFCC is investigating Agunloye over the $6 billion Mambilla hydropower contract.

The anti graft agency said it traced some suspicious payments made by Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd to Agunloye’s bank accounts.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo also challenged Agunloye to tell Nigerians where he derived the authority to award a $6 billion contract to Sunrise for the Mambilla hydropower project in 2003.

In his response, Agunloye said the government was not obliged to pay a kobo to Sunrise under the build, operate, and transfer (BOT) agreement, as it was to be fully funded by the newly registered company, whose declared assets were worth less than $2,000 at the time.

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