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Court grants four REA officials’ N350 million bail amid N1.8 billion ‘fraud’ in agency

The Federal High Court Abuja has granted the bail applications from four staff members of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), in an alleged electricity project supervision fraud against them, to the tune of over N1 billion.

The court approved N50 million to each of the three defendants, directing that they must provide two sureties, one of which must own landed properties in FCT.

The case was filed against Umar Musa Karaye, Emmanuel Titus and Henrrietta Okojie, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC)lead counsel, Dr. Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha.

The ICPC also arraigned a staff member of the REA, Abubakar Abdullahi Sambo today, before Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, for allegedly paying N1.835 billion for an unauthorized project supervision exercise.

ICPC’s Case

Karaye was said to have allegedly diverted N165 million, Titus was indicted for N261 million fraud in the agency while Henrietta was accused of diverting N342,000,000.

The anti-graft agency sued them for allegedly receiving various sums in different tranches through their respective bank accounts under the false pretence of project supervision on behalf of the rural electrification agency.

Sambo was said to have made illegal payments without authorization.

The anti-graft agency alleged the defendants committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

The Advance Fee Fraud prescribes seven years imprisonment for anyone convicted of obtaining property by false pretence especially when there is proven intent to defraud an institution, company or individual.

Furthermore, the ICPC alleged that the action of the defendants is “contributing to the economic adversity of the Rural Electrification Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 68 of the Public Enterprise Regulatory Commission Act, CAP. P39, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The court adjourned till today to hear their bail applications and arraignment of Sambo.

What transpired in court

Ruling on the three defendants bail application on Monday, Justice Emeka Nwite granted them bail.

The matter was then adjourned to July 10,2024 for trial.

For Sambo, Justice Olajuwon granted him N200 million bail and fixed October 17, 2024, for trial.

More insights

The REA is the implementing agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the electrification of rural and unserved communities.

The agency is under the Federal Ministry of Power.

The case came after the ICPC announced in 2023 that its operatives had commenced an investigation into alleged fraud, criminal conspiracy, and diversion of public funds in the REA.

Nairametrics previously reported that apart from the ICPC, the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-corruption had also invited the Managing Director of REA, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, to appear before it over alleged fraud in the agency.

The investigations followed a petition of alleged gross misconduct and fraud by the Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV).

In March this year, President Bola Tinubu approved the indefinite suspension of the Managing Director/CEO of the REA, Ahmad, alongside three Executive Directors of the agency, from office, following findings during a comprehensive investigation into the financial activities of the REA.

The defendants, namely, Umar Karaye, Usman Kwakwa, Emmanuel Titus, and Hanrrietta Okojie, are sued separately for the same offense.

Nairametrics reports that Karaye, Kwakwa, Titus, and Okojie were accused of illegally possessing N165,000,000, N298,000,000, N261,000,000, and N342,000,000.00, respectively, totalling N1,066,000,000.

The defendants are presumed innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty.


Source: TheTimes.com.ng.

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