A/Ibom fails to stop ICPC’s investigation

JUSTICE Festus Ntong of Akwa-Ibom State High Court sitting in Ikot Ekpene has declined an application to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) or any other Federal anti-corruption agency from investigating allegations of corruption into the finances of the state government.

The state Attorney-General, Mr Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko, had filed a suit before Justice Ntong, asking the court to restrain ICPC or any other federal anti-corruption agency from investigating the government of the state for alleged corrupt practices without prior authorisation by the state House of Assembly.

The AG had argued in the suit that a federal agency would be acting beyond its powers if it investigated a matter involving an official or agency of the Akwa Ibom state government.

He, therefore, joined the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the state government as respondents in the matter because, in his opinion, they were not exercising their power and rights to prevent a federal agency from encroaching on their jurisdiction.

Others joined as respondents in the suit are the Inspector General of Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and some banks.

Upon a preliminary objection filed by ICPC disputing the competence of the court to entertain any claim against the Federal Government or any of its agencies, the court ruled that the state High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain such a claim and, therefore, struck out the case.

It will be recalled that in a similar case brought before the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, by all the 23 local government councils of Rivers State in suit number FHC/PH/CS/432/2010, Justice Tijani Abubakar, by a ruling dated 31 May, 2012, dismissed the plaintiff’s claim and held that the issue of the constitutional authority of ICPC to investigate any person or authority in Nigeria for alleged corrupt practices had been decided with finality by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Attorney-General of Ondo State vs Attorney-General of the Federation (2002).