FG arraigns property developer over alleged electricity theft
Pleads not guilty, admits to N1 million bail
The Federal Government, yesterday, arraigned a property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe, before Justice Binta Mutala-Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged electricity theft.
Osakwe, the Managing director of Abeh Signatures, a property development company, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
At the proceedings, Osakwe challenged the legality of the task force that investigated the process leading to his arraignment. According to him, the task force is unknown to the law.
Osakwe has, through his counsel, filed a motion seeking to stay the arraignment on the ground that the special investigative task force on electricity set up by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and Minister of Justice was unlawful.
He also drew attention of the court to a pending suit challenging the panel that investigated his client and appealed to the court for a stay of proceedings pending the determination of the suit.
Counsel to the defendant, after a plea of not guilty taken by his client, brought an application for his client’s bail on the ground of self-recognition.
The judge, however, overruled the defendant’s counsel that a criminal matter before his court cannot be stayed for a civil matter, but granted the application for bail in the sum of N1 million with two like sureties.
In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/331/2022, the Federal Government had filed a criminal charge against a property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe, over alleged N11m electricity theft.
The property developer was said to have tampered with electricity meters, which resulted in the loss of N11m revenue to the Federal Government. In a charge signed by Mohammed Baba Ali, assistant director in charge of prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Osakwe was accused of interfering with the electricity supply, which resulted in the loss of revenue to the Federal Government, thereby, committing an offence contrary to Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.
The two-count charge dated August 2, 2022 read: “That you, Osakwe Ezem Cecil, sometime in the month of September 2021 at No 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja, FCT, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, unlawfully interfered with the supply of electricity by converting same, which led to the losses of revenue to the tune of about N11, 000,000.00 in value, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.
“That you, Osakwe Ezem Cecil, at No 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja, FCT, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, unlawfully interfered with electricity fittings, metres and appliances knowing that you are converting and supplying of electricity illegally, you thereby committed an offence contrary and punishable under Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.”The court adjourned the matter to May 2 for trial and cautioned the defendant against evading court proceedings.