N33bn fraud: Ex-power minister collapses outside courtroom

Ex-power minister collapses outside courtroom

Former Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, collapsed outside the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday, prompting an adjournment of his arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The 12-count charge against Mamman, which borders on money laundering to the tune of N33,804,830,503, was supposed to be heard on Thursday. However, his counsel, Femi Ate, informed the court that Mamman had fainted due to ill health.

Despite his condition, Mamman managed to walk into the courtroom and take his seat in the dock, his clothes partially drenched from water that had been poured on him. The judge, James Omotosho, asked him why he was sweating or if it was raining outside. Mamman explained that he had taken some medication without eating and his blood pressure had dropped.

The EFCC counsel, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, informed the court that there was a development outside and asked Ate to brief the court on what had happened. Ate revealed that Mamman had collapsed and had to be resuscitated by medical personnel before being served with the charge.

Mamman was served with the charge after he regained consciousness. His counsel then requested an adjournment due to his client’s ill health, but the judge declined citing a backlog in the court’s docket. The arraignment was subsequently adjourned to September ending.

Before adjourning the case, Olumide-Fusika informed the court that an amended charge had been filed due to a mistake in Mamman’s name and requested that a fresh charge be read to him. However, Judge Omotosho refused to accept the amended charge.

Mamman told the court that he was fit to continue with the arraignment and that his collapse was due to his medication being administered without food. He also complained about an error in the charge served on him and asked his lawyer to correct it.

The former minister’s health issues marred what was supposed to be a significant day in his trial. Mamman was appointed minister by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2019 but was sacked in September 2021. He was arrested by the EFCC in May 2023 over alleged N22 billion fraud. The anti-graft agency alleges that Mamman conspired with officials at the power ministry and some private companies to convert N33.8 billion meant for hydroelectric power projects for personal gain.

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