N5.2bn fraud: EFCC files fresh evidence against 6 REA officials
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Justice Adebukola Banjoko of an Abuja High Court sitting at Gudu, yesterday, fixed May 10 to deliver ruling on the admissibility of fresh proof of evidence adduced against six top officials of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The six officials are facing trial over a 65-count criminal charge bothering on conspiracy, fraud and criminal breach of public trust.
The anti-graft agency had insisted that its investigations revealed that they allegedly collaborated with three sitting lawmakers to siphon about N5.2 billion from the coffers of the establishment, in the guise of paying over 65 alleged fictitious companies that were purportedly awarded contract of Grid Extension and Solar Electricity Project in 2008.
EFCC told the High Court that the said project was funded from the 2008 Amended Budget of the REA.
Those on trial are the Managing Director of the establishment, Engr. Samuel Gakpe; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, and four Directors at the REA, Mr. Simon Nanley, Engr. Lawrence Orekoya, Abdulsalami Jahun Garba and Mr Kayode Oyedeji.
They were alleged to have used their different positions to fraudulently facilitate the withdrawal of monies from an account of the electrification agency domiciled in a Central Bank account number 010372014, at various times, and shared same after allegedly deceiving the Federal Government into believing that it was used to settle debts owed contractors that participated in the electricity project in 2008.
The anti-graft commission maintained that whereas the lawmakers masterminded the fraud, but that it was the six REA officials that were used to facilitate the illicit withdrawal of the monies.
The fingered lawmakers who are equally answering to a separate 64-count criminal charge in the same court are, the former Senate Committee Chairman on Power, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane, his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Godwin Ndudi Elumelu and Hon. Jibo Mohammed.