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ICPC Gets Nod To Investigate Akwa Ibom State Finances

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom

The Akwa-Ibom State High Court sitting in Ikot Ekpene has ruled that the Independent Corrupt  Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has the authority to investigate allegations of corruption involving the finances of the Akwa Ibom State Government.

Justice Festus Ntong on Friday declined an application filed by the State Attorney General, AG, Uwemedimo Nwoko, seeking to prevent the ICPC or any other federal anti-corruption agency from investigating the state government for alleged corrupt practices without prior authorisation by the State’s House of Assembly.

Nwoko 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.

The AG joined the Speaker of the State Assembly as well as the State Governor 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.

However, the ICPC filed an objection, challenging the competence of the court to entertain any claim against the Federal Government or any of its agencies.

Justice Ntong in his ruling held that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain such a claim and therefore struck out the case.

It would be recalled that a similar case was brought before the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt by all the 23 Local Government Councils of Rivers State in 2010.

But Justice Tijani Abubakar in his ruling on May 31, 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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