ICPC opposes Bayelsa govt’s motion to stop corruption investigation

THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has opposed a motion filed by the Bayelsa State government to stop the investigation of allegations of corruption levelled against some of its officials.

In a preliminary objection filed before Justice Hamma Adama Dashen of a Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the ICPC said it has the statutory powers to investigate any act of corruption levelled against officials of state governments in the country.

Bayelsa State govern­ment, through the Attor­ney General, had gone to court to challenge the powers of ICPC to demand records of financial expen­diture as part of investigations into alleged corrupt practices by some public officials.

The Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State, Preye Agedah, in his argument, told the court that the ICPC wrote several “Letters of Investigation Activities” under Section 28 and 29 of the Corrupt Practices and Oth­er Related Offences Act 2000 (ICPC Act 2000) to several functionaries of the state government, including the Secretary to the State Government, the Accountant General and others, demanding for financial records.

He requested the court to stop ICPC from conducting a general audit of the state and usurping the constitutional role of various organs of the state government under the guise of investigating alleged corrupt practices.

Agedah submitted further that the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, vests on the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the Auditor-General of Bayelsa State the exclusive powers to direct an investigation into the state’s finances for “exposing mismanagement, corruption or waste”.

He argued further that the demand made by ICPC for financial records of the state from 2008 to date looks more like an audit than an investigation.

Responding, ICPC counsel Adenekan Shogunle submitted that the issue of the validity and constitutionality of the ICPC Act 2000 was decided with finality by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of AG ONDO v AG FEDERATION (2002), a case in which Bayelsa State was a party.



    He further submitted that accordingly, having been made a party to the decision of the Supreme Court, no state in Nigeria can turn around to challenge the constitutionality and validity of the ICPC Act 2000 without offending the principle of issue estoppel.

    On the issue of whether or not ICPC had the power to audit the financial records of Bayelsa State, Shogunle argued that the allegation of seeking to audit the finances of the state government was speculative and not based on any convincing evidence.

    The ICPC counsel further argued that the objective of the Commission was spelt out in the letters of “Investigation Activities” addressed to the officials of the state government in their capacity as custodians of public records, adding that ICPC officials introduced in the letters were detectives and not auditors.

    The judge adjourned the matter to another date for ruling after listening to arguments from both parties.

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