N5.2BN POWER SCAM: EFCC TO QUIZ MORE LAWMAKERS

By NBF News
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As crisis rocks the House of Representatives, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have commenced full-scale investigations into the allegation of financial malfeasance and other scams against the House members, Daily Sun gathered yesterday.

Apart from the launch of investigations into the accusations contained in the petitions submitted by the suspended Progressive members of the House last Monday, the commission, it was gathered, is also spreading its dragnet to cover more members than were mention in the petitions.

The need to spread its dragnet wider sources revealed was consequent upon difficulties encountered by the anti-graft agency to dig deep into similar scams already being handled by the commission and upon which some House members were being prosecuted.

In the light of this development, the EFCC, Daily Sun learnt, has reopened investigations into the N5.2billion Rural Electrification Agency (REA) contract scam.

EFCC sources revealed some of the lawmakers among the 21 in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, who allegedly recommended firms for jobs in the REA have been quizzed over their roles in the scams, in which the commission is said to be developing headache in pursuing the prosecution of indicted lawmakers.

In the record of the REA with the EFCC, it was discovered that a number of lawmakers wrote letters of introduction recommending contractors of their choice and asking the agency to consider them in the award of specific jobs in their constituencies.

The lawmakers include Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Osun West); Senator Oladapo Ehinlanwo (Ondo South); Hon Zakariya Galadima; Hon Abiodun Akinlade; Hon Abdullhai Farouk; Hon Emmanuel Adedeji; Hon Dele Obadina; Hon Umar Jibril; Hon George Daika; Hon Pat Asadu; Hon David Iho; Hon Samson Osagie; Hon Patrick Ikhariale ; Hon Beni Lar; Hon Anthony Madawatte and Hon Baba Gishiwari.

The EFCC had at the last court sitting on the case filed fresh charges against the former Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Nicholas Ugbane and his House of Representatives counterpart, Ndudi Elumelu, bordering on alleged misappropriation of over N10billion public funds.

The added charges came in response to the application filed by the accused to quash the criminal charges brought against them by the anti-graft agency.

Ugbane and Elumelu had argued through their counsel, that the charges lacked merit to the effect that there was no evidence to prove their complicity in the contract awards.

Though, the EFCC opposed the application to quash the charges, the observation made by the accused persons appears to have jolted the anti-graft agency to go back to the drawing board in order to come up with a stronger case.

Sources at the EFCC disclosed that soon after the June 10, 2010 sitting of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the legal team of the anti-graft agency commenced a re-examination of all the controversial contract documents to establish a prima facie case against the accused persons. According to our source, the legal team has identified some loopholes in the original case and was now prepared to remedy the situation.

At the June 4, 2010 sitting of the Federal High Court on the case, counsel to one of the accused, renewed the application to quash the charges against his client because, according to him, there was nothing in the Proof of Evidence against Ugbane and Elumelu.

In a sworn affidavit presented by Mr. C.K Alabi, questions were raised as to the rationale behind the prosecution of the duo, while some Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who wrote recommendation letters for contractors were neither arrested nor arraigned.

In the submission of P.N Ikwueto (SAN), there was nothing in the Proof of Evidence to show that any of the lawmakers in the lower house being charged, recommended any contractor for any of the rural electrification projects. Ikwueto argued that if the charge against the accused was based on the theory of collusion to defraud the REA through contract awards, then, those persons who wrote and recommended contractors for the purpose of influencing the award ought to have been charged to court.