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$6bn Mambilla saga: Court grants ex-minister Olu Agunloye N50m bail

 

A federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Apo has
granted bail to Olu Agunloye, former minister of power and steel, in the sum of
N50 million.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been
prosecuting Agunloye over a $6 billion Mambilla hydropower contract.

 

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

 

The judge had ordered his remand in Kuje correctional centre
pending hearing and ruling on the bail application.

 

Moving the application on Thursday, Adeola Adedipe, counsel
to the former minister, prayed the court to grant bail to his client “by way of
self-recognisance or in liberal terms”.

 

He said Argunloye is not a flight risk and that the notion
canvassed by the prosecution was “borne out of misconception and communication
barrier”.

 

BAIL CONDITIONS

Adedipe also appealed to the court not to order the use of a
public servant as surety for his client.

 

Citing the case of Sambo Dasuki, former National Security
Adviser (NSA) in Dasuki v DG SSS (2020) Part 1731 NWLR, Adedipe submitted that
public officers should not be used as sureties, because the court of appeal
found such conduct to be “unknown to our laws”; especially because corruption
is encouraged that way.

 

The senior lawyer also argued that the apprehensive
misconception about bail and the mischief argued by the prosecution has been
solved by Section 352( 4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

 

Under this provision, Adeola said: “Once a defendant is
admitted to bail, even if he absconds, trial will continue and he will be
convicted where necessary”.

 

However the prosecution counsel opposed the bail
application.

 

Delivering ruling, Jude Onwuegbuzie, presiding judge, said
the pendulum of the court swings in favour of granting bail to the defendant.

 

He granted N50 million bail to the defendant and ordered him
to produce two sureties in like sum.

 

The sureties must be “reputable” and “people of means”
resident within the FCT.

 

They must have properties worth N300 million with a
Certificate of Occupancy that must be verifiable.

 

They must submit copies of their identity cards and
photocopies of their international passports to the court.

 

The defendant is to submit his international passport to the
court and must be present for hearing at all times.

 

The matter was thereafter adjourned to February 12 for
hearing.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The EFCC is investigating Agunloye over the $6 billion
Mambilla hydropower contract.

 

In September,  EFCC traced some
suspicious payments made by Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd to Agunloye’s
bank accounts.

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo 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.

 

In his response, Agunloye said the government was not
obliged to pay a kobo to Sunrise under the build, operate, and transfer (BOT)
agreement, as it was to be fully funded by the newly registered company, whose
declared assets were worth less than $2,000 at the time.

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