The former Minister of Power and Steel, Mr. Olu Agunloye, accused of involvement in a $6 billion contract fraud, has filed a motion challenging the authority of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute him. The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo has set February 26 as the date to hear this motion.
The EFCC alleges that Agunloye, who served as a Minister between 1999 and 2003, illegally awarded a contract for the construction of a 3,960 MW Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station without proper budgetary provision, approval, or cash backing. The contract was awarded to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited, with accusations that Agunloye corruptly received a kickback of N3.6 million from the company.
In response, the 76-year-old defendant, also a former Minister of State for Defence, entered a plea of not guilty to the seven-count charge. In a recent court session, Agunloye, through his lawyer, Mr. Adeola Adedipe, SAN, raised concerns about the EFCC’s authority to try him for these offenses.
Arguing that the agency lacks investigative and prosecutorial powers under relevant sections of the EFCC Act, 2004, Agunloye emphasized that the charges pertain to his actions as a public officer, alleged disobedience to presidential directives, and the alleged forgery of a letter in 2003, which he believes do not constitute financial crimes within the EFCC’s jurisdiction.
The defendant asserts that the EFCC’s investigation and prosecution are beyond its statutory powers, and he urges the court to determine the agency’s competence to pursue the case. Additionally, Agunloye filed a separate motion seeking an order to prevent the EFCC from inviting, intimidating, or harassing his sureties.