EFCC investigates suspicious payment in Agunloye’s bank account

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EFCC investigates suspicious payment in Agunloye's bank account
EFCC investigates suspicious payment in Agunloye's bank account

Former Minister Olu Agunloye, embroiled in the $6 billion Mambila hydropower contract controversy, has faced questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) regarding the matter.

Investigations have revealed payments labeled as “FRM LENO” in his account, which were linked to his involvement in the disputed contract awarded to Sunrise Power Ltd, promoted by Leno Adesanya.

Sunrise Power is currently in arbitration with Nigeria at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, seeking compensation of $2.3 billion over an alleged contract breach.

EFCC investigates $400 million settlement request

They are requesting a $400 million settlement, based on the terms of the 2020 agreement reached with the federal government to resolve the arbitration.

In a recent interview, former President Olusegun Obasanjo challenged Agunloye to clarify his authority to award a $6 billion contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd for the Mambilla hydropower project in 2003.

Agunloye’s response indicated that the government was not obligated to pay any amount to Sunrise under the build, operate, and transfer (BOT) agreement, as the project was supposed to be entirely funded by the newly established company.

This company had declared assets worth less than $2,000 at the time.

Agunloye remained silent on how he had obtained authorization to commit the government to a $6 billion project, especially when ministers, according to Obasanjo, were only allowed to approve amounts up to N25 million during his presidency.

As previously reported, Agunloye awarded the contract to Sunrise Power the day after the federal executive council asked him to withdraw his memo, just one week before the end of his tenure as the Minister of Power in May 2003.

The EFCC’s investigations uncovered several transactions between Sunrise Power and government officials, which were deemed “inappropriate” and could significantly impact the arbitration.

One such transfer to Agunloye with the description “FRM LENO” raised concerns.

Sunrise explained it as a “cultural payment” for the former minister’s medical expenses.

However, further investigation by the EFCC suggested that Agunloye used the money for shopping and transportation in Orlando, Florida, USA, rather than medical expenses.

This discovery has triggered a broader investigation dating back to the 2000s, and it is expected that some current and former government officials will face charges related to this matter.