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Fmr Power and Steel Minister, Olu Agunloye sues EFCC for declaring him wanted

Dr Olu Agunloye, former Minister of Power and Steel under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, has filed a N1 billion suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations that it published his name on its website’s wanted list.

Agunloye, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/167/2024 and filed by his team of lawyers led by Mr Adeola Adedipe, SAN, also joined the Attorney-General of Federation (AGF) as 2nd defendant.

The case, presently before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has now been fixed for April 18 for hearing.

The originating summons, dated and filed Feb. 8, was sighted by the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday.

The ex-minister sought six reliefs, including a declaration that the EFCC cannot lawfully exercise its discretion, powers and or functions under Sections 1(2\(c\, 6, 7, 13 of the EFCC Act, 2004, ditto Section 4 of the Police Act 2020, by declaring him wanted on its official website or any other related platform.

Agunloye said this was without recourse to any safeguard in Sections 34({1)(a), 35, 37, 39, 41 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), including a judicial intervention, order or leave of court pursuant to Sections 1(1), 8(1) & 42(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

He, therefore, sought an order for the EFCC, its agents, privies, representatives and other related affiliates to forthwith remove his picture, name, references, details and or particulars from the wanted list published on its official website or any other related platform.

He also sought a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC and the AGF, “both jointly or severally, whether by themselves or their staff, from further declaring the plaintiff wanted in relation to the particulars and subject matter of this suit, either on the EFCC official website, newspaper publication or any other related platform, except by a judicial intervention and recourse to all constitutional safeguards available to him in law and equity.

“General damages of one billion baira (N1, 000, 000, 000 00) against the defendants, especially the 1st defendant

“Cost of this action.”

In the affidavit which he personally deposed to, Agunloye said he sought a redress and judicial intervention from court having regard to some very disturbing actions of the anti-graft agency, which he said, ought not to occur under the watch of the AGF, who is the chief law officer of the federation.

He said he sought a judicial determination on the propriety or otherwise, of the exercise of the EFCC’s discretion or power to declare him wanted without recourse to any judicial intervention or relevant constitutional safeguards.

“As at the time of filing this suit, my picture, name, particulars and othe details are currently uploaded on the official website of the 1st defendant,” he said.

The plaintiff said he was declared wanted for corruption and forgery.

According to him, as a result of this action by the 1st defendant, I have become a subject of ridicule, stripped of my dignity, freedom of movement and even presumption of innocence, with respect to a criminal trial which I am currently boing prosecuted of, by the 1st defendant.

He alleged that the deliberate act of the EFCC was orchestrated to negatively project him in the international community.

Agunloye said this was so because sometime in November 2002 to May 2003, while he served as Minister of Power and Steel, he awarded contract to Messrs Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited for the construction of the Mambila Power Project by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

“The award of the said contracts followed all the necessary administrative and authoritative due process, obtaining the necessary approval.

“Moreover, since the award of the contract, successive administrations have continued to interface with the company, Sunrise Power and Transmission Limited, so much so that the government entered into a settlement agreement with it over a dispute.

“On an allegation of breach of contract by the company, Sunrise Power and Transmission Limited resorted to take out an arbitral proceeding before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, France – in Case No: 26260/SPN/AB/CPB between Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited Vs. FGN

“It is in connection to this arbitral proceeding that the 1st defendant invited me for interrogation on 3rd of May, 2023 and I did honour same on 16th May, 2023, despite my frailties and hailing health conditions.

“Upon my release on administrativ bail, the 1st defendant persisted in hounding me to return for further grilling which I frowned at because I was undergoing serious medical treatment related to heart.

“When the threat and disturbances became alarming, in June 2023, I filed a suit in court to challenge the unnecessary harassment because I was not running away, but only attending to my health with notice to the 1st defendant.

“It was however traumatising on the night of Tuesday, 12th December, 2023, when I started receiving calls from all around the globe that I had been declared wanted by the 1st defendant.

“Knowing fully well that I was not on the run, I reported at the EFCC headquarters here in Abuja the next day, 13th December, 2023 where I was served with a criminal charge and was detained till 18th December, 2023.

“On 10th January, 2024, I was arraigned in court and admitted to bail on 11th January, 2024, because I am presumed innocent of all the criminal allegations,” he averred.

Agunloye said despite the fact that the law presumes him innocent of the criminal charge, EFCC continued with the unlawful publication on its website

He described the action of the anti-graft agency as “arbitrariness, oppression, violation of its statutory powers and functions and unlawful.”

(NAN)

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EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello wanted over alleged fraud.

The EFCC in a statement on its social media handles said Bello is wanted for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2 billion.

The EFCC asked anybody with information as to his whereabout to report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station.

The commission wrote: “Former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is wanted by the EFCC for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2 Billion.

“Anybody with information as to his whereabout should report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station.”

Operatives of the commission had on Wednesday laid siege to the home of Bello in Abuja in a bid to arrest him after obtaining a warrant arrest.

The former governor could not be arrested as he was said to have been whisked away in the official vehicle of the Kogi Governor, Usman Ododo.

Ododo had stormed Bello’s house while the EFCC were laying siege outside the house. He governor was said to have left the premises with with Bello inside his vehicle.

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Court dismisses Fmr Anambra Gov, Obiano’s bid to stop trial in N40bn fraud charges

Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the application by a former Anambra State Governor, Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, which sought to quash the N40 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

The Judge, in a ruling delivered on Thursday, faulted and rejected all grounds upon which the application was predicated by Obiano.

The former governor had, among others, prayed the Judge to dismiss the 9-count charges instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on behalf of the Federal Government.

He claimed that there was no connection between the proof of evidence supplied to the court by the EFCC and the accusations against him.

He averred that there was no testimony from any witness indicating that he issued directives for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra State Government.

Obiano also claimed that he could not be held accountable for any alleged unlawful actions by officials of the Anambra State Government as there is no concept of vicarious liability in the criminal justice system.

His motion on notice was brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) and (b) and Section 36(6)(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended and Section 1(1) & (2), 266, 271(b), 383(4) &492 (3) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Among others, Obiano sought “An order of the court quashing the instant charge for it amounts to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal Justice

“An order quashing the charge for non-disclosure of a prime facie case being vague and devoid of precision in respect of all the 9 count charges.

“No prima facie case has been disclosed against the defendant in this charge. There is no link between the proof of evidence and the purported allegation made against the defendant in the charge

“No evidence exists from any witness showing that the defendant passed down a directive for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to Anambra State government.

“The defendant cannot be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State government as there is no vicarious liability in our criminal jurisprudence.

“The thinking and conclusion of the prosecution on the counts arose from speculation and suspicions.

“The subject matter of the charge borders on accountability for security vote funds.
The honourable court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain issues on accountability for security vote funds

“There is an appeal filed by the Anambra state government challenging the powers of EFCC to investigate the security vote of Anambra state government.

“The preferment of the entire charge is in bad faith. This honourable court has inherent judicial power to grant all the reliefs sought above.”

But in the ruling, Justice Ekwo held that all the reliefs sought by Obiano are not grantable because they are premature and lacking in merit.

The Judge said there is no way the court would know whether the former governor is linked with the alleged offences or not unless the trial is conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

The former governor is being prosecuted by EFCC on 9-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N40 billion.

Meanwhile, the Judge has fixed June 24, 25, 26 and 27 for full blown trial of the charges.

In the same vein, Justice Ekwo permitted Obiano 60 days to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The Judge ordered that Obiano be made to sign an undertaking to return to the country after the treatment and to deposit his travelling passport within three days of his return to Nigeria.

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Oyebanji, Fayemi, NASS members, APC leaders eulogize Omotosho at commendation service

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji on Wednesday led former Governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, National and State Assembly members, members of the State Executive Council, Party leaders and other prominent personalities to pay glowing tributes to the late APC Chairman, Barrister Paul Omotosho at a special commendation service organized by the state government in Ado-Ekiti.

Omotosho, who died on March 5th, after a brief illness, was, until his death, Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Ekiti State Chapter.

“You will not walk alone. I shall stand by you. The Government and the party will stand by you”, Governor Oyebanji assured the children and wives of the late Omotosho during his emotion – laden speech at the special tribute session held at Adetiloye Hall, Trade Fair Complex, Ado- Ekiti.

The commendation service had in attendance former Governor Kayode Fayemi (who was represented by former Attorney General in the State, Mr Wale Fapounda, SAN; the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Monisade Afuye, Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Adeoye Aribasoye, and three former deputy Governors- Prof Modupe Adelabu; Surv. Abiodun Aluko and Chief Wole Alabi as well as members of the Ekiti State Caucus in the National Assembly.

Oyebanji described the late Chairman as a committed, loyal, and party leader whose selflessness and sacrifices contributed immensely to the growth and development of the party and the state at large.

The Governor maintained that the late omotosho was a true friend, a burden bearer, confidant and a devoted community leader, adding that his demise has left a great vacuum within the party, the state and the nation at large.

While assuring the family that his government will continue to support them and stand in the gap of their father, the Governor said he is consoled with the fact that the deceased lived a fulfilled life and left an indelible mark in the development of the state.

“To me personally, I have lost a true friend, I’ve lost a confidant, I’ve lost a brother, a burden bearer and a soul mate. The truth of the matter is not how far but how well, Mr. Continuity left at his own time, I believe strongly that it was his own time to go. We don’t like it, and it is painful because death did not give us a chance to even try to save him.

“I know we are not happy about this and it is a trying moment for us as a party, as a state and as a government, but one thing I know is there is God in heaven who sees the affairs of men. To the children, to the family, as long as i am on this seat as the Governor of this state, you will not walk alone. That’s the assurance I am going to give you”. The Governor asserted.

In his on tribute, the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr. Fayemi, whose tribute was read by Barrister Wale Fapounda, described the late Omotosho as a dedicated leader, a unifier, and a pillar of the party in the state.

Dr Fayemi explained that the deceased was a tireless leader and a steadfast supporter of the party’s principle who ensured that under his watch the party achieved significant victories in recent elections and gained the trust of Ekiti people.

While calling on the APC members in the state to remain resolute in making the deceased proud by carrying on with his legacies of integrity, the former Governor maintained that Omotosho’s contributions and sacrifices for the party will never be forgotten.

Other speakers at the evening of tributes include Mrs. Fola Richie, who spoke on behalf of the state executive council members (2010 – 2014), where the late Omotosho served as as State Commissioner; Chief Bayo Idowu, on behalf of Afenifere; Dr Dele Ebunola, who spoke on behalf of Social Democratic Party (SDP); Prof Mobolaji Aluko, on behalf of the state executive council; Hon Sola Elesin, on behalf of APC, Ekiti State chapter; Rt. Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye, on behalf the State House of Assembly, and Senator Yemi Adaramodu, who spoke on behalf of National Assembly members.

Others were Chief Jide Awe, who spoke on behalf of APC elders; Chief (Mrs) Ronke Okusanya, on behalf of Women in Politics; and Mr Ojo Oluwasegun Samuel, who spoke on behalf of local government chairmen.

They all eulogized the late Omotosho as a man of integrity and a truly honest and hard working politician and public servant, who was selfless and result- oriented.

A pall of silence descended on the Adetiloye Hall, venue of the event during the viewing of a documentary detailing the life and times of the late Omotosho was shown the audience. Many wept profusely after the documentary which preceded a short sermon and prayer of the family of the deceased.

Barrister Paul Omotosho who died on March 5th would be buried in his home town, Imesi Ekiti on Friday.

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