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Mambilla: Leno Adesanya writes Tinubu, says EFCC criminalising commercial dispute

Mambilla: Leno Adesanya writes Tinubu, says EFCC criminalising commercial dispute
February 26
17:54 2024

Leno Adesanya, the promoter of  Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd, has written a letter to President Bola Tinubu over the $6 billion Mambilla hydropower contract.

In the letter, Adesanya accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of attempting to criminalise a commercial dispute.

BACKGROUND

Recently, the EFCC declared Adesanya wanted over “an alleged case of conspiracy and corrupt offer to public officers”.

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He was mentioned in three out of the seven-count charges preferred against Olu Agunloye, former minister of power and steel.

The EFCC is prosecuting Agunloye over the Mambilla hydropower contract.

TheCable had reported that the EFCC traced some suspicious payments made by Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd to Agunloye’s bank accounts.

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In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that on “August 10, 2019, Agunloye corruptly received the sum of N3,600,000.00 through his Guaranty Trust Bank account no.0022530926 from Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL) and Leno Adesanya for approving the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Station project”.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had 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.

Sunrise Power is in arbitration with Nigeria at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, France, alleging a breach of contract.

The company said it was awarded a $6 billion build, operate, and transfer (BOT) contract in May 2003 by the Obasanjo administration but that the federal government repudiated the agreement.

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Sunrise is asking for a compensation of $2.3 billion, claiming it had spent millions of dollars on financial and legal consultants before the contract was jettisoned.

In its defence at the arbitration, the Nigerian government is alleging fraud and corruption by public officials in the award of the contract.

THE LETTER

According to The Guardian, Adesanya, in the letter, said he was not evading trial in Nigeria, adding that he has not been personally served with any criminal charge.

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“I shall return to Nigeria after the current dispute has been resolved. The unwarranted declaration by the EFCC is totally unacceptable because we have not even been personally served with any criminal charge or formerly notified of the pending charge to require my appearance or representation by counsel,” the letter reads.

“Therefore, for the gross illegality of the FG and EFCC, further legal action is being considered by my lawyers to put a stop to this criminalisation of a commercial dispute.”

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Adesanya said the criminalisation of commercial disputes by law enforcement agencies will affect businesses and frighten investors.

He added that the allegations that he transferred some funds to Agunloye in 2019 for medical treatment are laughable since the former minister ceased to be a public servant in 2003.

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He averred that the federal government decided to criminalise the power deal because there was no justification or defence for the unilateral cancellation of the deal.

“In the absence of any credible defence to Sunrise’s claims, the federal government, through the EFCC, has continued to desperately hunt down potential witnesses and to scandalise the underlying contract,” he said.

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“In support of this objective, the EFCC has now secretly filed a charge against SPTC (in Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/618/2023 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Sunrise) pending in a court located in the remote village of Jikowyi, on the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory and bounded by Nasarawa State.

“To date, the said charge has not been served on me or Sunrise. However, to create leverage in the ongoing dispute, the FG acting through the EFCC has now hurriedly declared me a “wanted person”, without any justification.”

Adesanya said he fled Nigeria for security reasons and was communicated to Abubakar Malami, former attorney-general of the federation.

The promoter of  Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd added that he could meet up with the anti-graft agency for interviews in Paris or London.

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