Court Remands Former Power Minister Over Corruption Charges

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Mohammed Wakil

MUHAMMED Wakil, former Minister of State for Power, was on Monday, March 8, 2021, remanded in EFCC custody after being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a two-count charge of corruption at an FCT High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja presided over by His Lordship, the Honourable Justice S. B. Belgore.

Wakil, who pleaded not guilty when the charges when read to him, was arraigned alongside two companies, Corozzeria Nigeria Limited and Pikat Properties Nigeria Limited.

The former minister, the prosecution alleges, had in 2014 corruptly received the sum of N148 million from the funds approved for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff members of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He was said to have received the money from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited through the Polaris Bank account of his firm, Corozzeria Nigeria Limited.

While ordering the remand of the former minister in EFCC custody, Justice Belgore adjourned the matter till March 31st for the determination of his bail application.

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 N118,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Eighteen Million) Naira only through Corozzeria Nigeria Limited’s Polaris Bank Account No. 4010023658 from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited out of the sum of N27,188,232,208.20 (Twenty Seven Billion, One Hundred and Eighty Eight Million, Two Hundred and Thirty-two Thousand ,Two Hundred and Eight Naira, Twenty Kobo) only 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.”

Counsel for the prosecution, Benjamin Manji, asked the court to set a date for commencement of trial and remand 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. “My lord, our humble application is for the first defendant to be admitted to bail,” he said.

But the prosecution counsel opposed the oral application, while urging the court to order the defendant to file the application formally.

Justice Belgore adjourned the matter till March 31, 2021 for determination of bail application and remanded the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.

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