By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has ordered that a former Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Suleiman Belgore, in a ruling on Monday, ordered that Wakil remains in EFCC’s custody until March 31 when his formal bail application would be considered.

Justice Belgore gave the ruling when, after Wakil’s arraignment on a two-count charge of corruption and abuse of office, the prosecution opposed the oral bail application made by his lawyer.

Wakil, who was arrested by the EFCC at his Abuja residence on Sunday, was arraigned on Monday with two companies, Corozzeria Nigeria Limited and Pikat Properties Nigeria Limited.

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The EFCC accused Wakil receiving N148 million as gratification from Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited out of the N27,188,232,208 approved outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Wakil pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him.

Shortly after the arraignment, prosecution’s lawyer, Benjamin Manji sought a date for the commencement of trial.

Defendants’ lawyer, B.C. Igwilo (SAN), applied orally for bail for Wakil, saying: “My lord, our humble application is for the first defendant to be admitted to bail.”

Manji objected, arguing the first defendant has to bring a formal application before the court.

Justice Belgore then adjourned the matter till March 31, 2021, for the hearing of Wakil’s bail application.

A count in the charge reads: “That you Muhammed Wakil, while being Minister of Power and managing director of Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, and Corozzeria Nigeria Limited, on or about 22nd 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 Bestworth 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.”

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