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Court jails five REA ex-directors over N5.2b project fraud

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Federal high court, Abuja

A high Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), presided by Justice Adebukola Banjoko, has convicted five former Directors of the Rural Electricity Agency (REA) for their alleged involvement in a contract scam leading to the award of a N5.2 billion rural electrification project.

Those convicted and sentenced by the court were the erstwhile Managing Director of REA, Samuel Gekpe; an accountant, Simon Nanle; the Director or Projects, Kayode Orekoya; an Assistant Director, Abdusamad Hahun and the Head of Legal Department, Kayode Oyedeji.

They were found guilty based on a 65-count criminal charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC.)

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The first defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N5 million fine payable within one month, while the third to sixth defendants were sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine each.

However, the court absolved a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, of any wrongdoing in the allegation levelled against him and the directors.

The court had upheld the “no-case” submission lodged by Aliyu on appeal and he was subsequently discharged and acquitted.

Justice Banjoko dismissed the application of Gekpe, the first defendant, which had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the charge.

The defendants were specifically charged to court for criminal breach of trust, which the anti-graft agency said, was perpetrated through a contract that was awarded from the amended 2008 Budget of REA for grid extension and solar electricity.

On the substantive charge, the court noted that the prosecution had established by way of evidence, all ingredients of the offences levelled against the defendants.

The judge held that the matter was a clear manifestation of dishonesty as the contract awards were well crafted to boycott laid down process.

Justice Banjoko noted that the Federal Government did not incur any loss and the prosecution could not prove that the defendants diverted funds meant for rural electrification project to their personal use. Accordingly, the defendants were convicted and sentenced.


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