Alleged $6bn Fraud: Agunloye Loses Bid To Stop Prosecution

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AGUNLOYE

Alleged $6bn Fraud: Agunloye Loses Bid To Stop Prosecution

 

Justice Jude Onwueguzie of the Federal Capital Territory High, FCT, Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 dismissed a preliminary objection brought by ex-minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye challenging the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to prosecute him.

Agunloye is facing prosecution by the EFCC on seven-count charges bordering on suspected fraudulent Mambilla Power Project contract award to the tune of $6billion (Six Billion US Dollars).

On February 8, 2024, Agunloye had through his counsel, Adeola Adedipe (SAN) filed a motion challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate and prosecute him as well as that of the jurisdiction of the court to try him.

In response, prosecution counsel Abba Muhammed filed a counter affidavit, dated February 22, 2024, where he dismissed Agunloye’s motion as incompetent and offensive to the provisions of Section 115(2) of the Evidence Act.

Delivering ruling on Wednesday, Justice Onwuegbuzie struck out Agunloye’s motion for lack of merit and held that Section 6 and 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 gave the Commission investigative and prosecutorial powers to cause investigation into any act of economic and financial crimes.

 “On issues of whether the EFCC has the statutory power to investigate and prosecute before a court of  competent jurisdiction,  I have considered the application of the defence and the respondent, and I hold that the EFCC is charged with the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes including, contract scams, money laundering, advance fee fraud etc,   including the investigation and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws, also cause investigation to weather an individual or company, or anybody is likely to commit any crime. 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,” the judge ruled.

Regarding the legitimacy of the prosecution fiat the Commission obtained from the Office of the Auditor-General rather than that of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF),   the judge held that any other state, authority or person was eligible to institute criminal prosecution in the absence of the AGF.

“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,” he said.

He adjourned the matter till May 30, 2024 for continuation of trial.