March 5, 2024

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye, wanted over an alleged $6 billion fraud related to the controversial Mambilla hydropower project.

Agunloye served as minister during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration (1999-2003) and was at the centre of the Mambilla project controversy, which involved the award of a $6 billion contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd.

The EFCC announced Agunloye’s wanted status through its official X platform (formerly Twitter), urging the public to report any information about his whereabouts to the nearest police station or the Commission directly.

The Mambilla project was intended to be a major hydroelectric power plant in Nigeria, but it has been plagued by delays and controversies since its inception. In 2003, Agunloye awarded the contract for the project to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd, a company with questionable credentials and limited financial resources.

Obasanjo raised concerns about the project, questioning Agunloye’s authority to approve such a large contract and demanding explanations for the discrepancies. Agunloye defended himself by claiming that the contract was a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement, meaning that the government would not incur any financial obligations.

However, doubts remained about the legitimacy of the contract and Agunloye’s actions. He was subsequently investigated by the EFCC for alleged mismanagement and questionable financial transactions linked to the Mambilla project.

The EFCC’s investigation focused on several key points, including the nature of the contract awarded to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd.; Agunloye’s authority to approve such a large contract without proper authorization; the source of funds used for the project; A suspicious payment of an unknown amount received by Agunloye with the description “FRM LENO.”

The investigation reportedly revealed that Agunloye used the “FRM LENO” funds for personal expenses, including shopping and transportation in the United States, instead of the intended purpose. This discovery further raised suspicions and led to renewed investigations into Agunloye’s financial activities during his time as minister.

With Agunloye’s whereabouts unknown, the EFCC has declared him wanted and is actively seeking his arrest.

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