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Business, Economy

Anti-graft Hammer Falls On Power Sector As Court Jails Ex-MD, 4 Others

The present administration’s war on corruption recorded major success in the power sector with the jailing of a former MD and four top officials of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). They were convicted for their involvement in a N5.2billion rural electrification project contract scam.

They were jailed at the weekend by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.

The convicts are the agency’s former managing director, Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, Simon Kirdi Nanle, an accountant, Engr. Kayode Orekoya, director of Projects, Abdulsamad Garba Hahun, an assistant director and Kayode Oyedeji, head of Legal Department.

Justice Banjoko, however, absolved a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, of any wrongdoing in the N5.2billion fraud, for which Gekpe and the other officials were found guilty.

They were found guilty of all the 65-count charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Aliyu and the convicted officials were prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly defrauding the federal government of N5.2billion.

Specifically, the defendants were charged to court for criminal breach of trust, which they perpetrated by awarding contracts for grid extension and solar electricity from the amended 2008 budget of REA.

The court had upheld the “no-case” submission by Aliyu on appeal and was subsequently discharged and acquitted.

In the judgement delivered on Friday, Justice Banjoko dismissed the application of Gekpe, the first defendant, where he challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

On the substantive charge, the court noted that the prosecution had established by way of evidence, all ingredients of the offences levelled against the defendants.

The judge held that the matter was a clear manifestation of dishonesty as the contract awards were well crafted to boycott laid down process.

Banjoko, however, noted that the federal government did not incur any loss and that the prosecution could not prove that the defendants diverted the funds meant for rural electrification to their personal use.

Accordingly, the defendants were convicted and sentenced. The 1st defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N5million fine payable within one month, while the 3rd- 6th defendants were sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine each.

The permanent secretary and the directors were accused of fraudulently facilitating the withdrawal of the sum of N119.7million from the account of the REA, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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