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Court remands two REA officials in prison amid N426 million ‘fraud’ in agency

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The Federal High Court Abuja has remanded two staff members of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), at the Kuje Correctional Service pending the determination of the bail applications in an alleged electricity project supervision fraud, to the tune of N426 million.

The case was filed against Umar Musa Karaye and Emmanuel Titus by the  Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC) counsel, Dr. Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha,

Karaye was said to have allegedly diverted N165 million while Titus was indicted for N261 million fraud in the agency.

On Thursday, the ICPC charges were read separately to the duo by a registrar and they pleaded not guilty.

Their lawyer, Alhasan Idoko told Justice Emeka Nwite that he took steps to file bail applications for the defendants last Monday.

But the judge said he could not even hear the bail application because the prosecution needed time to formally respond to it in line with the rules of the court.

The judge subsequently adjourned the case to July 10, 2024, for trial and June 20 for hearing of the defendant’s bail applications.

The REA is the implementing agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the electrification of rural and unserved communities.

The agency is under the Federal Ministry of Power.

The case came after the ICPC announced in 2023 that its operatives had commenced an investigation into alleged fraud, criminal conspiracy, and diversion of public funds in the REA.

ThePressNG previously reported that apart from the ICPC, the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-corruption had also invited the Managing Director of REA, Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, to appear before it over alleged fraud allegations in the agency.

The investigations followed a petition of alleged gross misconduct and fraud by the Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV).

In March this year, President Bola Tinubu approved the indefinite suspension of the Managing Director/CEO of the REA, Ahmad, alongside three Executive Directors of the agency, from office, following findings during a comprehensive investigation into the financial activities of the REA.

The ICPC also plans to arraign a staff member of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Abubakar Abdullahi Sambo, for allegedly paying N1.835 billion for an unauthorized project supervision exercise.

The defendants, namely, Umar Karaye, Usman Kwakwa, Emmanuel Titus and Hanrrietta Okojie, are sued separately for the same offense.

ThePressNG reports that Karaye, Kwakwa, Titus and Okojie were accused of illegally possessing N165,000,000, N298,000,000, N261,000,000, and N342,000,000.00, respectively, totalling N1,066,000,000.

The defendants are presumed innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty.

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