The Federal Government on Monday arraigned a property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe before Justice Binta Mutala-Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over electricity theft.
Osakwe, the Managing Director of Abeh Signatures, a property development company, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against him by the federal government.
At the Monday proceedings, Osakwe challenged the legality of the task force that investigated the process leading to his arraignment. According to him, the task force is unknown to the law.
Osakwe has through counsel filed a motion seeking to stay the arraignment on the ground that the special investigative task force on electricity set up by the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice was unlawful.
He drew the attention of the court to a pending suit challenging the legality of the panel that investigated his client and appealed to the court for stay proceedings pending the determination of the suit.
Counsel to the defendant also brought an application for client’s bail on the ground of self recognition .
The judge, however, overruled that a criminal matter before his court cannot stay for a civil matter, but granted the application for bail in the sum of N1 million with two like sureties.
In the suit mark: FHC/ABJ/CR/331/2022 the federal government had filed a criminal charge against a property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe, over alleged N11m electricity theft.
The property developer was said to have tampered with electricity meters which resulted in the loss of N11m revenue to the Federal Government.
In charge signed by Mohammed Baba Ali, assistant director in charge of prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Osakwe was accused of interfering with the electricity supply which resulted in the loss of revenue to the Federal Government, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.
The two-count charge dated 2nd of August, 2022 read: “That you, Osakwe Ezem Cecil, sometime in the month of September 2021 at No 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja, FCT, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, unlawfully interfered with the supply of electricity by converting same which led to the losses of revenue and that in naira value about N11, 000,000.00 thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.
“That you, Osakwe Ezem Cecil, at No 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja, FCT, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, unlawfully interfered with electricity fittings, metres and appliances knowing and that you are converting supplying of electricity illegally, you thereby committed an offence contrary and punishable under Section 1(10) of the miscellaneous Offences Act.
The court adjourned the matter to May 2 for trial and cautioned the defendant against evading court proceedings.