Akwa Ibom State Attorney General 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 involving the finances of the Government of Akwa Ibom State.

The
Akwa Ibom State Attorney General (AG), Mr. Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko, had
filed a suit before Justice Ntong, seeking 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 Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

The Akwa
Ibom State 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 Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly
and the Akwa Ibom 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 included 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 trial court ruled that the State High Court lacked
jurisdiction to entertain such a claim and therefore struck out the
case.

It may 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, Hon 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).

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