We Have Powers To Probe State Finances, EFCC Replies Agbakoba

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday said it has powers to probe state finances, adding that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba, goofed in his sub- mission.

The anti-corruption com- mission, in a release by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, made available to the Nigerian Tribune, said it took exception at “the indecorous and utterly irresponsible attempt by Agbakoba to dress it in the borrowed garb of a lawless entity and a meddlesome interloper, who has no business probing the stealing of Kogi State resources”.

The release was reacting to comments made by Agbakoba in which he slammed EFCC’s commitment to the rule of law and its investigation of the finances of the Kogi State government.

“The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to comments credited to Olisa Agbokoba, in media reports of Monday, wherein he cast aspersion on the commission’s commitment to rule of law and its investigation of the finances of the Kogi State government.
“According to Agbakoba, EFCC not only disregards the rule of law, but has no business inquiring into how the Kogi State government spends its funds.

“The commission takes great exception at the indecorous and utterly irresponsible attempt by Agbakoba to dress it in the borrowed garb of a lawless entity and a meddlesome interloper, who has no business probing the stealing of Kogi State resources.

“In all his tirades, no evidence was presented to support his claim that the EFCC has been lawless, nor did he mention any law which the commission’s investigation of the finances of the Kogi State government violated,” the release stated.

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According to EFCC, contrary to the senior advocate’s view, the Supreme Court at no time delivered any judgment which forbade the commission from investigating fraud cases involving a state government. “Instead, his refrain was to a non-extent decision of the Supreme Court which he also failed to electorate (sic) upon. But it is important to state that contrary to the views of Agbakoba, the Supreme Court at no time delivered any judgment which forbids the EFCC from investigating fraud cases involving a state government.

“The learned counsel ought to have known that the apex court of the land as far back as 2010 in JOLLY TEVORU NYAME V FRN (2010) 11 NWLR (PT.1193) 344 held that the ‘claim that the money belongs to Taraba State and that the state has exclusive claim on it to the exclusion of any other authority by virtue of Section 120 of the 1999 constitution cannot stand.’

“Furthermore, Agbakoba’s erroneous views ought to be tempered by the decision of the Supreme Court in A.G ONDO STATE v. A.G., FEDERA- TION (2002) 9 NWLR [pt.772] page 222 at page 308 where the Honourable Court held: ‘It has been pointed out that the provisions of the Act impinge on the cardinal principle of federalism, namely, the requirement of equality and autonomy of the state government and non-interference with the functions of state government. This is true, but as seen above, both the federal and state governments share the power to legislate in order
to abolish corruption and abuse of office. If this is a breach of the principle of federalism, then, I am afraid, it is the constitution that makes the provisions that have facilitated the breach of the principle. As far as the aberration is supported by the provision of the constitution, I think it cannot rightly be argued that an illegality has occurred by the failure of the constitution to adhere to the cardinal principles which are at best ideals to follow or guidance for an ideal situation.’

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(Tribune)

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