Benue accounts: Court orders service of processes on EFCC

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the service of processes on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in relation to a suit by the Benue State Government, challenging its investigation and the alleged freezing of the state’s accounts by the anti-graft agency.

Justice Babatunde Quadri issued the order on Thursday after listening to Benue State’s Emeka Etiaba (SAN),who argued an ex-parte motion to that effect.

Justice Quadri, who acceded to the plaintiff’s request to have the case heard during vacation, also ordered that processes in the case be served on other respondents before the next hearing date fixed for August ‎14, 2018.

Other respondents in the suit marked: FHC/MKD/CS/42/18, are 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.

Etiaba argued that it was wrong to allow the EFCC investigate the accounts of the state under any guise without due authorisation of the Benue State House of Assembly, as required under Section 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

The plaintiff, in its originating summons, wants the court to among others, declare that by the provisions of sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the EFCC Act and any other law, beyond the Benue State House of Assembly and the Auditor- General, Benue State (4th and 5th respondents), the EFCC or any other body has no 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

It also seeks: “A declaration that in the absence of any resolution duly passed by the Benue State House of Assembly pursuant to Sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution authorizing the EFCC or any other body, authority or person to investigate the accounts or make inquisitions into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person cannot commence or continue investigations and/or inquisitions with respect thereof.

“A declaration that the commencement or continued invitations of officials of Benue State Government on account of investigation of Benue Government accounts, 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 without authorization by the 2nd to 4th defendants vide a duly passed resolution negate the Doctrine of Separation of Powers as enshrined under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution.

“A declaration that 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 amount to usurpation of the Powers of the Benue State House of Assembly and the Auditor General, Benue State, having regard to Sections 125 (2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

“A declaration that the demands made by the 1st defendant, invitations of officials of Benue State Government and subsequent investigations violate the express provisions of Sections 125, 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

“A declaration that the 2nd to 4th defendants are not permitted to surrender or share their powers of control over the public funds of Benue State as provided by the Constitution to the 1st defendant or any other body, authority or person.

“A declaration that the EFCC Act is an inferior; legislation to the Constitution and where any provision in the Act ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution, such provision becomes null and void and of no effect.

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.

The suit is supported by a 35 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Samuel Orchir, who averred that the business of governance has suffered tremendously by the intermittent interferences and demands by the EFCC, on the officials of the Benue State government to furnish it with documents relating to the accounts and /or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of the state.

He stated that some officials of the state were invited and detained by the EFCC and thereby denying the state of their services.

According to him, some of the officers invited for interrogation by the EFCC, according to the affidavit are Permanent Secretary, Government House; Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services; Mr. Kato Ijir; Secretary to the State Government; Mr. Agbo Omada (Assistant Director, Finance); Terwase Orbunde (Chief of Staff to the Governor); Dr. Dura Magdalene (Special Assistant Adviser on SDG’s to the governor) and Mr. Stephen Amase.

 

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