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Alleged $6 Billion Fraud: Court dismisses ex-minister Agunloye‘s application on ‘amicus curiae’

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday dismissed an application by a former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye, inviting some legal luminaries to hear his case on alleged infractions in the Mambilla Hydroelectric plant.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Agunloye, who served as a minister in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, before Justice Jude Onwuegbuzie.

In the suit, marked FCT/HC/CR/617/22, the EFCC charged the former minister with seven counts bordering on forgery, disobedience of presidential order, and corruption.

On March 21, the defendant, through his counsel Adeola Adedipe (SAN), moved a motion seeking the leave of the court to allow some legal luminaries to participate in the hearing of his preliminary objection against EFCC.

He told the court that, contrary to a constitutional provision, the AGF did not give the EFCC the fiat to investigate and institute proceedings in the case against him.

Mr Adedipe cited section 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). He told the court that instead of getting such fiat from the AGF, EFCC got it from the solicitor-general of the federation.

He urged the court to grant the application, saying the prosecution was aware that the court had the power to grant the same, which was why it did not want to grant it.

Responding, the prosecution counsel, Abba Mohammed, said the Supreme Court had decided in FRN vs Osahor and others that the AGF’s power under section 174 of the constitution is not exclusive to him.

According to him, this implied that other authorities could initiate criminal proceedings in court, adding that in the instance case, the AGF did not complain that EFCC usurped his power.

Mr Mohammed added that the Appeal Court had decided in Audu vs FRN that EFCC can prosecute offenders under the ICPC Act.

He urged the court to take judicial notice that the solicitor-general of the federation, who signed the fiat to prosecute the defendant, was the acting AGF as of August 8, 2023, as there was no substantive AGF then.

The prosecution counsel urged the court to decline to grant the application as prayed by the defendant.

He submitted that the Supreme Court had clearly stated the situations under which the court can exercise its discretion in allowing amici curiae, which he said was only when the court was in doubt.

But ruling on the motion on Monday, Justice Onwuegbuzie held that the matter is not such that amicus curiae (friends of the court) should be invited.

” The Amicus curiae are not parties to the case and can not be invited. Consequently, the application is dismissed,” the judge ruled.

“The court is not confused or in doubt to warrant the intervention of amici curiae,” said Mr Onwuegbuzie. ” An amicus ‘is not supposed to be invited by parties in the suit’ but that it is the responsibility of the court to do so if desirous of it.”

He then adjourned until April 22 to hear the defendant‘s preliminary objection.


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