A Federal Capital Territory High Court has ordered a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, to remain in prison custody till March 31, 2021 over financial mismanagement involving the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
Wakil, a former lawmaker, was charged alongside two companies –Corozzeria Nigeria Limited and Pikat Properties Nigeria Limited, for allegedly receiving N148 million as gratification from Bestworth Insurance.
Brokers Limited out of the N27.1 billion approved outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff members of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
This action followed the two counts bordering on corruption and abuse of office slammed on Wakil on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before the court.
Count one of the charge reads: “That you Muhammed Wakil, while being Minister of Power and managing director of Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, and Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, on or about 22nd December, 2014, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did corruptly receive the sum of N118 million through Corozzeria Nigeria Limited’s Polaris Bank Account No. 4010023658 from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited out of the sum of N27.1 billion being the sum approved for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria ( PHCN), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 8(1)(b)(ii)of the same Act.”
When the charges were read, the defendant pleaded “not guilty.”
Counsel for the prosecution, Benjamin Manji, asked the court to set a date for commencement of trial and for the remand of the defendant at a correctional centre, pending trial.
However, counsel for the defendants, B.C Igwilo SAN, prayed the court to grant bail to the 1st defendant.
But the prosecution counsel opposed the oral application, while urging the court to order the defendant to file the application formally.
Justice SB Belgore however adjourned the matter till March 31, 2021 for the determination of bail application and remanded the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.
The anti-corruption agency had in 2018 arraigned Wakil, and four others at the Federal High Court, Maiduguri, Borno State, for another case of an alleged collection of $115 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to prosecute the 2015 general elections.
Wakil, a native of the Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State and a law graduate from the University of Maiduguri, was the Minister of State for Power in Nigeria during Jonathan’s administration.
He was also a member of the National Assembly and vice chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration from 1999 to 2003, Wakil was the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.