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Alleged N1.85bn Fraud: Court remands two rural electrification officials

by Business News Report

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday ordered two officials of the Rural Electrification Agency’s account and finance department to be remanded in Kuje Prison custody over alleged N1.853 billion fraud. Justice Emeka Nwite ordered Umar Musa Laraye and Emmanuel Titus Pada remanded pending their bail pleas after they were arraigned on separate four-count charges. On June 6, the judge issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Messrs Laraye, Pada, and Henrietta Onomen Okojie for failing to appear in court for their arraignment.  The judge gave the order after Osuobeni Akponimisingha, counsel for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), moved an oral application to the effect. He then adjourned the matter until today for ICPC to produce Messrs Laraye and Pada in court, while Ms Okojie’s case was fixed for June 14 (Friday). The ICPC had preferred separate four-count charges against the affected officials over allegations of misappropriation of public funds meant to provide electricity to rural communities across the country.

The anti-corruption agency sued Mr Pada as the sole defendant in the first charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/204/24. The ICPC sued Mr Karaye on the second charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/202/24, while Ms Okojie was sued on the charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/203/24. When the cases involving Messrs Laraye and Pada were called, Mr Akponimisingha informed the court that the matters were scheduled for them to take their plea. The anti-corruption commission lawyer applied for the June 6 bench warrant to be vacated against them since the defendants were in court, and the judge granted the request. After the separate four-count charges were read to them, they pleaded not guilty, and Mr Akponimisingha applied for a trial date.

But Idoko Alhassan, who appeared for the two defendants, told the court when the first matter involving Mr Laraye was heard that he had already filed a bail application on June 11 on behalf of his client. Mr Alhassan said the application was duly served on the prosecution on Tuesday. Mr Akponimisingha said he had not received a copy of the bail application. The judge said the prosecution was still waiting to respond to the application. He adjourned the matter until June 20 for the bail application hearing and ordered Mr Laraye, including Mr Pada, remanded in Kuje Prison custody. He then fixed their trial until July 10. On June 6, the ICPC arraigned Usman Ahmed Kwakwa, also an official of REA, on a four-count charge bordering on fraud. Mr Kwakwa pleaded not guilty to the counts preferred against him. The judge Nwite admitted him to a N50 million bail. (NAN)

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