Nigeria’s former Minister of State for power, Muhammad Wakil has been remanded in prison custody till 31 March 2021 on the order of a Federal Capital Territory High Court over his alleged involvement in the mismanagement of the N27 billion set aside for the payment of the retirement benefits to staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
This action followed the two-count charge bordering on corruption and abuse of office slammed on Wakil on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice S.B.Belgore of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja.
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 Best worth Insurance Brokers Limited out of the N27.1 billion approved outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Muhammed Wakil, while being Minister of Power and managing director of Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, and Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, on or about 22 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 Best worth 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. “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 31 March 2021 for determination of bail application and remanded the defendant in the custody of the EFCC.