- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been summoned by a Federal High Court in Abuja over the freezing of Benue state government's account
- This came after the counsel to the state, Emeka Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed an application to the court
- Etiaba in his submissions prayed to the vacation judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, to restrain the EFCC from investigating the state's account under any guise
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, August 9, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to appear before it over the freezing of the Benue state government account.
The vacation judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, gave the order after listening to submissions by counsel to Benue state government, Emeka Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Other defendants in the suit are the speaker, Benue House of Assembly, the clerk, and the auditor general, state.
The court further directed the state government to serve all the relevant processes in the suit on the EFCC and other respondents before the next adjourned date.
Etiaba said the suit was filed in Makurdi, but he secured leave of court for the matter to be heard by a vacation court due to its urgent nature and since there was no vacation court in Makurdi.
Etiaba prayed the court to issue a preservative order restraining the EFCC from investigating the accounts of the state under any guise.
This, he said, was particularly without due authorisation of the Benue House of Assembly in line with sections 128 and 129 of the constitution.
He said: “Whether by virtue of Sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the EFCC Act 2004 or any other law, the EFCC or any other body has the power to investigate or inquire into the accounts of Benue Government.
”This is having regards to the clear provisions of Sections 1 ( 1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“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 EFCC Act and any other law, the EFCC or any other body does not have the power to inquire into the accounts of Benue Government.
“A declaration that in the absence of any resolution duly passed by the Benue House of Assembly pursuant to Sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution authorising the EFCC or any other body to investigate the accounts of Benue Government, the EFCC or any other body cannot commence or continue investigations with respect thereof.’’
The plaintiff also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from surrendering or sharing their powers of control over public funds of Benue as provided under sections 128 and 129 of the constitution to any other body, authority or person.
The matter was adjourned until Tuesday, August 14, for hearing.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that the governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, said it was unconstitutional and wrong for government accounts to be frozen.
Yari, who is also the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), made the comment in a statement released on Wednesday, August 8, in reaction to the freezing of bank accounts belonging to Benue state by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
NAIJ.com gathered that the governor described the action as tantamount to shutting down the government.
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