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Agunloye seeks intervention of AGF, NBA president in $6bn Mambilla case

Agunloye seeks intervention of AGF, NBA president in $6bn Mambilla case
March 05
03:38 2024

Olu Agunloye, the former minister of power and steel, has filed a motion seeking to invite an “amici curiae” to intervene and give opinions on the criminal charge filed against him.

An amicus curiae(friend of the court) is an individual who is not a party to a litigation, but volunteers or is invited to advise on some pending matter.

Agunloye is seeking the intervention of Lateef Fagbemi, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF); Yakubu Maikyau, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); Joseph Daudu, former NBA president; and Kanu Agabi, former minister of justice.

BACKGROUND

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Agunloye over a $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 had 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.

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Agunloye was arraigned on a seven-count charge bordering on fraudulent award of a contract and official corruption.

PRELIMINARY OBJECTION

In a preliminary objection dated February 6, Agunloye said the EFCC lacks the powers to prosecute him because the offences levelled against him do not border on financial crime.

“The alleged offences in this charge, bother on my activities as a public officer, on the alleged award of contract without budgetary provision, approval and cash backing,” Agunloye said.

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Amongst other things, the former minister said it is the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) that has the power to prosecute him over the allegations contained in the charge.

The court had fixed March 4 to hear the application alongside another application for a variation of Agunloye’s bail conditions.

MONDAY’S COURT SESSION

At the court session on Monday, Abba Mohammed, EFCC counsel, indicated his readiness to proceed with the defendant’s applications, adding that the prosecution had filed counter affidavits to the two motions.

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However, Adeola Adedipe, counsel to Agunloye, drew the court’s attention to the application for an amici curiae which he said was ripe for hearing.

Adedipe said he would want the friends of the court to be present during the hearing of the preliminary objection.

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“Whatever decision this honourable court arrives at, in respect of the Defendant’s preliminary motion on notice of 8/2/24 – in motion No. M/3736/2024, will project a major test on the integrity of our courts, rule of law, sanctity/authority of the Bench, with far-reaching effects on the doctrine of judicial precedents and the administration of criminal justice,” the application reads.

“The instant case is of a significant magnitude, sprawling through the embers of national and internal interests, in consideration of the ongoing Paris Arbitral Reference at the International Chamber of Commerce, between Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited v. Federal Government of Nigeria v. Mr. Leno Adesanya; and same continues to raise controversies, along the fault lines of both domestic and foreign borders.

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“This honourable court has inherent powers to invite and or request contributions from the above listed Amici Curiae, or any other Friend the court may so consider, on their views in respect of the issues raised for consideration in the said preliminary motion on notice.

It is in the overall interest of justice, sanctity of the bench, preservation of the constitution and sustenance of the rule of law, that this honourable court grants the instant application.”

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Jude Onwuegbuzie, the presiding judge, adjourned the matter to March 21 to hear all the applications.

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