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HomeNewsEFCC lacks constitutional powers to probe Zamfara State's accounts, court declares

EFCC lacks constitutional powers to probe Zamfara State’s accounts, court declares

EFCC lacks constitutional powers to probe Zamfara State’s accounts, court declares

. Sets aside Commission’s invitation to past, serving Zamfara officials

 

A Federal High Court, sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State has declared that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission does not have the powers to invite (by letters, telephone calls or any other means of communication) serving and past officials of the Zamfara State Government for the purpose of explaining how the state’s funds are utilised.

The Court held that the power to audit the public accounts of Zamfara State is not vested in the 1st Defendant (EFCC) or any other authority, person, body or organisation other than in the Auditor General of Zamfara State.

Justice Aminu Bappa Aliyu made this known on Wednesday while delivering judgment on a suit instituted by the Government of Zamfara State and Attorney General of Zamfara State against the EFCC and the Attorney of the Federation.

The Court also set aside EFCC’s letter of invitation to the past and serving officials of Zamfara State Government, dated 28th September, 2021, or any other date, noting that such letter, “being ultra vires the powers of the 1st Defendant”, was null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

These and other orders were made after the court had listened to submissions of the Plaintiffs’ counsel, Abdulfathu Shehu; and Counsels to the defendants, Adebisi Adeniyi and P. A. Attah, in the Writ of Summons suit, dated and filed on November 16, 2021 and marked: FHC/GS/CS/30/2021.

Having gone through the processes filed by the parties, Justice Aliyu granted all the prayers of the Plaintiffs, stressing that only the Zamfara State House of Assembly and the Auditor General of the state are vested with the constitutional authority of seeking explanation or inviting public officials on how the state’s money is being spent and not the EFCC or the AGF.

The Zamfara State Government had also prayed the court to bar EFCC from inviting, arresting or detaining any government officials as regards the appropriation of public funds in the state as such contradicts the power of the anti-graft body.

The presiding judge granted all the Plaintiffs’ prayers, saying, “A declaration is made that, having regard to the provisions of Section 120, 121, 122. 123, 124, 128 and 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the 1st Defendant (EFCC) does not have the powers to invite (by letters, telephone calls or any other means of communication) serving and past officials of the Plaintiff for the purpose of explaining how funds meant for security votes, estacodes and travelling allowances were utilized, or are being utilized, when such funds are such that the Auditor General and the Zamfara State House of Assembly have the constitutional authority to conduct investigation and exercise powers and control over same.

“A Declaration is made that upon a calm and proper interpretation of the provisions of Section 125 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the power to receive financial statement and annual accounts of Zamfara State from the Accountant General of Zamfara State is not vested in the 1st Defendant or any other authority, person, body or organization other than in the Auditor General for Zamfara State.

“A Declaration is made that upon a proper interpretation of the provisions of Section 125 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the power to audit the public accounts of Zamfara State is not vested in the 1st Defendant or any other authority, person, body or organization other than in the Auditor General of Zamfara State.

“A Declaration is made that upon a calm and proper interpretation of the provisions of Section 125 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the Auditor General or any person authorized by him, cannot be subjected to any direction or control of the 1st and 2nd Defendants (EFCC and AGF) or any authority, person, body or organization.

“An Order of Injunction is made retraining the 1st Defendant by itself, agent, servant, detectives, employees, staff, operatives and privies from inviting, or further inviting. arresting and or detaining past or present officials of the 1st Plaintiff (Zamfara State Government) with respect to how funds meant for security votes, estacodes and travelling allowances were expended by the 1st Plaintiff except through the House of Assembly of Zamfara State and in strict compliance with provisions of the Constitution of the Federal of Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

“An Order of Injunction is made restraining the 1st Defendant whether by itself, its agents, employees, servants, operatives, detectives, privies, investigating officer(s), and other person by whatever name called, from inviting, or further inviting, intimidating, harassing and threatening to arrest or detain, or from arresting or detaining any past or present official of the 1st Plaintiff on the basis of the same facts or similar facts as herein stated.

“An Order is made setting aside the 1st Defendant’s letter of invitation to the past and serving officials of the Plaintiff, dated 28th September, 2021, or any other date, same being ultra vires the powers of the 1st Defendant, and therefore, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

CamScanner 06-01-2023 16.08

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