Akwa Ibom State Government has filed N50 billion lawsuit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an unlawful freezing of its account, recently.
The state’s attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Barr Uwemedimo Nwoko disclosed this to newsmen in an interview at the Government House in Uyo, at the Weekend.
Other defendants named in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, Zenith Bank PLC, Skye Bank PLC and the United Bank for Africa PLC. Nwoko noted that the anti-graft agency had no constitutional powers to freeze the state government’s account.
According to him, “There is no basis even in the constitution of Nigeria or any other enabling law made by anybody whether the National Assembly or the state Assembly or any other convention that authorizes any federal agency or any agency to shut down the account of a state government as done by the EFCC.
“I want to state clearly that even if there were to be an investigation that the EFCC was carrying out about whether there was any fraud committed against Akwa Ibom State in that circumstance, it should be the government of Akwa Ibom that should be the victim, so there was no basis for freezing the account they claimed that they were investigating a fraud against that state government.”
On whether the freezing of the state account has any political undertone, Nwoke declined comment, insisting that he would pursue the matter legally and to a logical conclusion.
The Attorney General regretted that the state account that was shut down stalled the Economic, security and business operations in the state, adding that some prospective investors in the state developed cold feet due to that singular act thereby subjecting the state to losing billions of Naira.
“The singular attempt of freezing the account of the state government was shutting down the state. Akwa Ibom State was brought down on its knees, it was an attempt to paralyze and completely demobilize the activity of the state.
“We could not respond to economic, security and business exigencies. Most importantly, the investors that were coming to Akwa Ibom began to have a second thought and became worried about the status of their investment. Those who were on their way began to go back. so we suffered unquantifiable losses,” he said.
Nwoko also taunted the EFCC’s report denying freezing of Akwa Ibom state government account, saying that, that was a face saving approach by the anti-graft agency.
He added that the state government had every evidence to prove that its accounts were frozen.
On the report of tracing about N11 billion to accounts owned by top lawyers in the country, the Attorney General said the state government had lawyers under its employment and it owed them obligation to pay them their fees, arguing whether it was unlawful for lawyers who work for a state government to receive their legitimate earnings.