N5.2bn Fraud: Court Discharges Aliyu, Jails Five REA Directors

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT), High Court, sitting in Gudu, Abuja, Friday, convicted and sentenced former directors of the Rural Electricity Agency (REA), to various jail terms for their culpability in the N5.2bn scam.

The convicts include Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, former Managing Director, REA; Simon Kirdi Nanle, an accountant in REA; Engr. Kayode Orekoya, Director of Projects; Abdusamad Garba Hahun, Assistant Director and Kayode Oyedeji, Head of Legal Department.

However, the second defendant, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power was discharged and acquitted.

They were charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for criminal breach of trust in fraudulently awarding contract for Grid Extension and Solar Electricity from the amended 2008 Budget of REA.

They were alleged to have fraudulently facilitated the withdrawal of the sum of N119.7m from the account of the agency, domiciled in Central Bank of Nigeria.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution led by Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), called seven witnesses before closing its case. Rather than open its defence, the defendants through Paul Erokoro (SAN), made a no case submission, which was overruled by the court and thereafter were called upon to open their defences.

Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu’s “no-case” submission was, however, upheld on appeal and he was consequently discharged and acquitted.

In a significant judgement, the trial Judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko dismissed the application of Gekpe, the first defendant, who challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge. On the substantive charge, the court found that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against them through evidence adduced by the prosecution.
The court held all the ingredients of the offences against the defendants were proved.

The defendants were accordingly convicted and sentenced.

The first defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N5m fine; the third to the sixth defendants were sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine each.

Author: News Editor

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