The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has charged a member of the House of Representatives, Oghuma Egwakhide, for allegedly collecting N1.6 million as bribe from three contractors.
In a statement on Thursday, the commission said Mr Egwakhide was charged on a four-count before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi.
The commission accused Mr Egwakhide, who represents Etsako East/West/Central Federal Constituency, Edo State, of collecting kickbacks from contractors handling school projects in his constituency.
The ICPC said investigations revealed that Mr Egwakhide, demanded 10 per cent kickbacks from the N16.5 million contract for the construction of one block of three classrooms at Fugar Mixed Secondary School, in Etsako Central LGA, as part of the constituency project he sponsored in 2018.
“He was alleged to have then collected N1.6 million from Feola Ventures Nigeria Ltd, the company handling the project as a bribe after the award of the contract by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing,” ICPC said.
“The Commission told the court that his actions amounted to receipt of gratification and abuse of office in violations of Sections 10 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under the same act.”
Mr Egwakhide pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him. His counsel, Samuel Sibiri, prayed the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance.
The prayer was not opposed by the prosecution lawyer, Adesina Raheem. He, however, pleaded with the court to grant the accused bail in such terms that would effectively secure his attendance in court.
The trial judge consequently admitted him to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and should be gainfully employed, the court said.
Further conditions of the bail demanded that the sureties must submit two passport photographs with the court registrar as well as provide evidence of tax clearance for the last three years.
The accused was later granted bail after fulfilling the bail conditions and the matter was then adjourned to November 17 for the continuation of trial.
The execution of constituency projects, officially known as zonal intervention projects, has for years been riddled by corruption. The projects are sponsored by members of the National Assembly and receive as much as N100 billion each year.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November last year criticised the projects, saying there was little to show for over N1 trillion earmarked for the projects in the last 10 years.
Last year, the ICPC said an estimated N2 trillion was spent on constituency projects in Nigeria since the year 2000 without commensurate development at the grassroots.