The Federal Government has arraigned a property developer, Mr. Cecil Ezem Osakwe before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, over electricity theft.
He was arraigned on a two-count charge before the court.
When the charge was read to him, he pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail by the court. Justice Nyako granted him bail in the sum of N1m with a warning that under no circumstances should he miss the trial. She threatened to revoke his bail, if he fails to show up for his trial.
The prosecutor, Mr Mamman Baba Ali, an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Justice, described the decision of the court as a welcome development. He said the prosecution of the defendant will serve as deterrent for others.
Osakwe had through his counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, told the court that he had a motion for a stay of the arraignment of his client. 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
But the court overruled him and asked that the charge be read to the defendant. The court fixed the matter to May 2 for trial.
At the last adjourned date, Justice Nyako threatened to issue a bench warrant, if Osakwe fails to appear in court for his arraignment. On two occasions, he failed to appear in court for his arraignment which prompted justice Nyako to threaten him with arrest, should he fail to appear in court.
In the charge, Osakwe was said to have tampered with electricity metre which resulted in the loss of N11m revenue to the Federal Government.
Osakwe was alleged to have been caught by the officials of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, allegedly stealing electricity at various properties including his residence at 11 Aso drive, Abuja. According to the officials of the power company, the scale of electricity theft by Osakwe at a number of other properties he manages is still under investigation.
The defendant have been in the eye of the storm over property related issues. Apart from the fresh charge of electricity theft, Osakwe who is the Managing Director of Abeh Signature Limited, is also facing a criminal charge of N130m fraud before a High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory. He failed to appear before Justice Idris Mohammed, for his arraignment. He claimed he was not served with the charge sheet. At the last adjourned date, Justice Idris returned the case file to the Chief Judge of the court. The police claimed they were unable to serve him with the charges. The case has however, been assigned to Justice Mohammed Madugu of the FCT High court.
In the fresh charge signed by Mamman Baba Ali, Assistant Director in charge of Prosecution in the ministry of justice, Osakwe was said to have interfered with electricity supply which resulted in 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, sometimes in the month of September 2021 at No 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja, FCT, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, unlawfully interfered with 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.
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