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Court halts EFCC’s probe of Benue accounts

By Alex Enumah, Abuja on 21/08/2018

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court, has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop further investigations into the finances of Benue State Government pending the determination of the substantive suit filed by the state.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba gave the preservative order on Monday and warned parties in the suit not to take further steps that would destroy the subject matter of the court.

In an originating summons marked FHC/MKD/CS/42/18 filed by the Attorney General of Benue State, the state government in the suit is challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate or inquire into the accounts and /or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government having regard to the clear provisions of sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2),(4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the 1999 constitution.

The suit marked FHC/MKD/CS/42/18 and filed on behalf of the state by the Benue State Attorney General, has the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly; the Clerk, Benue State House of Assembly; Benue State House of Assembly and the Auditor-General, Benue State as other respondents.

‎Although all the parties were Monday represented in court by their counsel, the vacation Judge, Justice Dimgba, expressed the need to study the case file, as it was coming to him for the first time.

‎Justice Babatunde Quadri, another vacation Judge who had earlier handled the matter, summoned the EFCC to come to court and explain it’s action.

The EFCC had earlier this month frozen the bank account of Benue State Government claiming it was investigating alleged fraud but, quickly defroze the account same day the order was made.

At Monday's proceedings, Emeka Etiaba SAN, represented the Benue State Government, while Slyvanus Tahir appeared for the EFCC.

In a short ruling, Justice Dimgba ordered parties “Not to take any further steps so as not to destroy the res, which is the subject matter before the court, pending the determination of the originating summons adjourned to August 29, 2018.”

Issues brought before the court for determination are; “whether by virtue of sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004, or any other law, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person beyond the Benue State House of Assembly and the Auditor- General, Benue State (4th and 5th respondents), has the power to investigate or inquire into the accounts and /or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government having regard to the clear provisions of sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2),(4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the 1999 constitution.

“Whether in the absence of any resolution duly passed by the Benue State House of Assembly authorising the EFCC or any other body, authority or person to investigate and/or inquire into the accounts or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person can lawfully and constitutionally embark on such exercise without breaching the clear provisions of Sections 1 (1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

“Whether the continued invitations of Officials of Benue State Government, investigations and/or inquisitions into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government by the EFCC or any other body, authority or person under any guise having regard to Sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution do not negate the Doctrine of Separation of Powers as enshrined under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution.

Upon favourable determination of the questions, the plaintiff is seeking “A declaration that by the provisions of Sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and any other law, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person does not have the power to investigate and/or inquire into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government having regard to the clear provisions of Sections 1 (1) and (3): 125(2). (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

The plaintiff also wants an order of perpetual Injunction restraining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants from surrendering\ or sharing their powers of control over the public funds of Benue State as provided under Sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution to the 1st defendant or to any other body, authority or person.

•Sourced from a THISDAY report

Source News Express

Posted 21/08/2018 04:55:57 AM

 

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