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Court Stops Further Investigation Into Benue State Accounts



Gov. Ortom

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop further investigations into the finances of Benue State government pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed by the state.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, who issued the preservative order yesterday warned that parties should not take further steps that would destroy the res (subject matter) of the court.

In suit number FHC/MKD/CS/42/18, filed by the attorney general of Benue State, the state is challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate or inquire into the accounts and /or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government having regard to the clear provisions of sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution.

The court adjourned the matter because of the need to study the case file, as it was coming to the court for the first time.

Accordingly, he ordered parties “Not to take any further steps so as not to destroy the res, which the subject matter before the court, pending the determination of the originating summons adjourned to August 29, 2018”.

Before yesterday proceedings, Justice Babatunde Quadri had earlier summoned the EFCC to come to court and explain its action.

However, the commission promptly defreeze the Benue State account same day the order was made.

In the course of its investigation, the commission had interrogated some high ranking government officials, including the permanent secretary, Government House; permanent secretary, Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services; Mr Kato Ijir; secretary to the State Government; Mr Agbo Omada (assistant director, Finance); Terwase Orbunde (chief of staff to the Governor); Dr Dura Magdalene (special assistant adviser on SDG’s to the Governor) and Mr Stephen Amase.

Besides government officials, the respondent ‎further averred that the EFCC also invited and interrogated members of the State House of Assembly including Hon. Avine Agbum; Dominic Ucha; Ngohemba Agaigbe; Ngunan Adingi among others.

In the suit, ‎he further urged the court to determine whether by virtue of sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004, or any other law, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person beyond the Benue State House of Assembly and the auditor general, Benue State (4th and 5th respondents), has the power to investigate its accounts.