The arrested directors of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) – Messrs Simon Manle, Engr Laurence Orekoya, Abdulsamad Jahun and Barrister Kayode Oyedeji are likely to be formally arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over a N6 billion contract scam.
They are likely to be charged for alleged criminal conspiracy and breach of trust which is contrary to Section 315 of the Penal Code cap 532 LF 1990.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday said that it would not in any way obstruct the course of justice in the ongoing investigation of three of its members detained by EFCC over the controversial N6 billion contracts award.
And ahead of the planned arraignment of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Nicholas Ugbane, in court by the EFCC in connection with the scam, the Senate yesterday said that he acted for himself and not on its behalf, Thisdayonline.com reports
The resolve of the House came at an emergency executive (closed door) session held by the lawmakers on the issue just as today had been reserved for the debate on the recommendations of its Ad hoc Committee set up to review the 88 recommendations of the Power Probe Report.
Chairman, House Committee on Power, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; his deputy, Hon. Mohammed Jibo, as well as the Chairman, House Committee on Rural Development, Hon. Paulinus Igwe, surrendered themselves to the anti-graft agency on Monday after nearly one week of speculations on their whereabouts.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, who briefed the media yesterday, said that the trio were never arrested but voluntarily responded to the invitation extended to them in writing and routed through the Office of the Clerk to the House of Representatives.
He urged the media to be fair and objective in its reportage of the issue to avoid a situation where they would be adjudged guilty in the court of public opinion even before investigations were concluded.
Asked why the House decided to schedule the debate on the review of the Power Probe Report at a time when the principal actors of the probe were cooling their feet at the EFCC cell, Eyiboh said that it was a mere coincidence as the Ad hoc Committee had long completed its assignment and submitted its report to the House before the rural electrification contract controversy came up.
According to him, the absence of Elumelu and Jibo could not be an excuse to postpone debate on the matter as the report itself was already a public document and not an issue of the individuals who conducted the power probe.
In the Senate, the Chairman of the Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, said Ugbane “was taken in his private capacity. He was not taken while performing assignment on behalf of the Senate, but that does not mean that we will abandon him”.
He also stated that Ugbane, nevertheless, remained innocent of the allegations levelled against him until he was proved guilty by the court.
Eze said at his weekly press briefing that the Senate had so far not been able to get details of the alleged offences committed by Ugbane, stressing that the committees mandated to interface with the EFCC did not succeed in getting the details from the Commission.
According to him, “So far, the EFCC has not asked the Senate for any other member and we have not also tried to interfere with what the EFCC is doing and we are happy that they are following due process and they have assured us that they will take our colleague to court and he will face the process.
“We believe that the process will decide whether he is innocent or guilty. But as for now, he remains innocent until proven guilty. That is the situation and that is how we hold him. We do not believe that he is guilty; we believe that he is innocent until the court process proves otherwise.”
He said that the Senate had sent representative to visit him, adding, “we try to talk with him and we are satisfied that he has shown us that he is still innocent, and he is in very high spirit”.
Eze stated, in response to another question, that the Senate had mandated the Committee on Judiciary and the Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes to interface with the EFCC to find out details of the offences committed by Ugbane.
According to him, “What we specifically wanted to find out through them was whether it is possible at this point to tell us the details of what they said our colleague has done and I can tell you that they tried but they didn’t get any details.”
He said that the Commission refused to them details.