The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed the detention of a former Minister of State for Power Olu Agunloye days after he was declared wanted.
A source in the anti-graft agency on Tuesday said that Agunloye has been detained since 13 December 2023.
“He has been with the EFCC since December 13th,” the source said. “But it was not made public.”
The EFCC had about a week ago declared Agulonye wanted over an alleged $6 billion fraud related to the controversial Mambilla hydropower project.
“The public is hereby notified that Olu Agunloye, whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in an alleged case of corruption and forgery,” the agency wrote on its social media platforms.
It urged anyone “with useful information as to his whereabouts” to contact the agency. The EFCC had in September questioned the former minister over the same issue.
Agunloye was a minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government (1999-2003). He has been at the centre of the controversy about the Mambilla project.
Obasanjo had accused him of fraudulently awarding the contract for the project without the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval. But Agunloye denied the accusations and claimed the former president was distorting facts.
Agunloye’s most recent travails have continued to generate reactions from Nigerians. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka is the latest to comment on the matter.
In a Monday statement, he captioned “In pursuit of justice, productivity, under the rule of law,” Soyinka questioned the agency’s action.
“The immediate provocation for these reflections is the ongoing predicament of a former Minister of Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, currently detained by the EFCC, in total contempt of sense and justice, or indeed, basic humane considerations. We shall not go into the merit or demerits of the charges raised against him over a 16-year-old project that bears the name Mambilla. –that is the business of the law courts,” Soyinka wrote.
“Our concern at this moment is however only partially on the basis of individual fundamental human rights. Most fortuitously, the detention of any former public servant under circumstances such as Agunloye also provokes the question: how is public interest – such as the pursuit of justice – served by such an arbitrary exercise of power?’’