EFCC accuses Elumelu, Ugbane of stealing over N10bn
A new twist has been introduced into the on-going trial of former Senate Committee Chairman on Power, Senator Nicholas Ugbane and his House of Representatives counterpart Hon. Ndudi Elumelu as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, accused the duo of misappropriating over N10 billion public funds.
This was disclosed in a 20 paragraph affidavit filed before Justice Garba Umar of the Federal High Court, Abuja , to oppose the application on notice filed by the accused persons to quash criminal charges brought against them by the EFCC over their indictment in the N5.2 billion Rural Electrification Agency, REA, contract scam.
Specifically, Elumelu and Ugbane had approached the court on June 10, 2010 with an application praying that the charges against them be quashed for lacking in merit.
In response, prosecution counsel, Godwin Obla told the court that the application brought by the duo was in bad faith. He further argued that the accused persons were involved in a grand conspiracy to commit various criminal misconducts, ranging from misappropriation of over N10 billion from the account of REA; misappropriation of unspent funds at the end of the year instead of returning same to the treasury.
Others are misappropriation of N500million to buy houses; diversion of REA's funds; flouting of government's rules on award of contracts and award of fictitious and unnecessary contracts without following due process.
According to the EFCC's counsel , preliminary findings also indicated that Elumelu and Ugbane, in their capacities as Chairman, House Committee on Power and Chairman Senate Committee on Power respectively, were involved in conducting procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and undue interest in influencing procurement processes to obtain undue advantage in contract award in Rural Electrification Agency.
The EFCC also alleged that Senator Ugbane was one of the members of the National Assembly that initiated the Grid Extension and Solar Electrification contracts and inserted same in the 2008 budget of the Rural Electrification Agency.
“That the said Grid Extension and Solar Electrification contracts were used as conduit pipes with which funds of the Rural Electrification Agency were siphoned and were awarded to companies either not prequalified to be awarded the contract or were phony or existing companies”, Obla said in his counter affidavit to oppose the move by the accused to quash the charges against them.
He pointed out that former managing director, Rural Electrification Agency, Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe admitted in his statement, contained in the proof of evidence, that staff of REA were shown the sites for the purported solar base projects in Sen. Ugbane's constituency, in Kogi State by the senator's staff, stressing that the Senator showed heavy interest in the companies that lifted the contracts for the purported Grid Extension and Solar base projects.
Obla prayed the court to discountenance the prayers of the accused persons, pointing out that the nature of the offences for which they are charged are felonious and carry severe sentences of up to five years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Justice Umar adjourned the case till July 5, 2010 for ruling on the merit of the motion to quash the case. He had earlier on 27 th January 2010, ruled that Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Senator Nicholas Ugbane and seven other accused persons in the REA contract scam are to take their pleas in the amended charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
The other seven who are being prosecuted in the new amended charges are: the permanent secretary in the ministry of power, Abdulahi Aliyu; the Managing Director, REA, Samuel Gekpe, Simon Nanle, Lawrence Orekoya; Abdulsamad Jahun; Kayode Oyedeji, Igwe Paulinus, and Jibo Mohammed
The accused persons are facing criminal trial over their alleged involvement in the N5.2 billion fraud in the REA contract scam.
The EFCC, had substituted two of the earlier charges for another 85 counts charge dated 26 January, 2010.