N6b Rural Electrification Fraud: Court Convicts ex-Perm Sec, Directors
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Gudu, Abuja has convicted and fined a former Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Samuel Ibi Gekpe, an engineer.
He and other directors of the agency were charged with disregarding the provisions of the Public Procurement Act by misappropriating N6 billion.
The fund was mismanaged in the payment for rural electrification contracts, which they purportedly awarded as the agency’s Public Procurement Committee in 2008.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them for criminal breach of trust before Justice Adebukola Banjoko.
The other defendants are a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, an accountant in the agency Simon Kirdi Nanle, a director Lawrence Orekoya, an assistant director Abdulsamad Jahun and the agency’s former Head of Legal Department, Kayode Oyedeji.
The prosecution team, led by Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), called seven witnesses from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, the agency’s officers and an EFCC operative Ibrahim Ahmed.
The defendants, represented by Paul Ewekoro (SAN), made a no-case submission, which was dismissed.
In a February 8 verdict, Justice Banjoko dismissed the first defendant’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the charge.
The court found that the prosecution proved the ingredients of the offences of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy.
Justice Banjoko held that the defendants, who disregarded Public Procurement Act, misappropriated over N6 billion in contract payments.
The judge found the defendants guilty as charged.
She convicted and sentenced Gekpe to three years imprisonment with an option of N5 million fine.
The judge also sentenced the other defendants to three years imprisonment but with an option of N500,000 fine each.
The fines are to be paid within 30 days from judgment day.