Govt fumes as EFCC arrest Accountant-General over alleged N9bn money laundering
The Oyo State Government has condemned the recent arrest and detention of the state Accountant-General, Alhaji Gafar Bello, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), describing the act as unconstitutional.
In a statement by the state Commissioner of Information, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, on Tuesday, the state government said the Accountant-General had spent four days at the EFCC custody before he was released by the anti-corruption agency.
The EFCC had arrested the Accountant-General of the state on Monday over alleged N9billion money laundering, said to have been deducted from the disbursement and expenditure of the consolidated revenue fund, contingencies’ fund, and security votes of the state.
The Agency alleged that the state governor, Seyi Makinde, had wanted to use the money to prosecute his 2023 governorship re-election bid for a second term in office.
But the state in its statement earlier today gave updates on arrest, questioning and detention of the Accountant General on Friday, February 25, and his subsequent release on Monday, February 28.
The state government said: ‘The continued harassment and intimidation of the Accountant General and other officials of the state government by the EFCC is totally unconstitutional and unacceptable and is being contested in a court of competent jurisdiction.
‘The EFCC and its officials have, since last year been mounting pressure on Oyo State and its officials to provide documents regarding disbursements and expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Contingencies Fund and Security Vote lawfully approved and passed into Appropriation Law of Oyo State by the Oyo State House of Assembly. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has decided in a long line of cases that the EFCC lacks the powers to prosecute issues that are not corruption cases.
‘We would like to put it on record that by virtue of Section 128 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, unless and until the Oyo State House of Assembly reports or exposes any corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it to the Executive Governor of Oyo State and Commissioner for Finance, Section 6 (h) of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 (as amended) cannot be triggered.
‘The Oyo State House of Assembly has not made any such reports and thus the actions so far by the EFCC and the EFCC Chairman are unconstitutional and ultra-vires.
In line with this conviction, the Oyo State Government had approached the Federal High Court, in the Ibadan Judicial Division on February 8, 2022, for declaratory reliefs and to among other things, issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants (1. Attorney General of the Federation; 2. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; 3. President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria and 4. The Chairman EFCC) their functionaries or agencies or whosoever from interfering with the activities of any government officials in Oyo State (i.e. any public officer or functionary or officer or servant of the government of Oyo State) in the exercise of powers purported to be conferred by or under the provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004 with relation to the expenditure and or spending of the Oyo State Government or security votes as vested in the Governor of Oyo State.
‘The EFCC had brazenly refused service of the processes at the Abuja Head Office for reasons unknown to the law but as of today, March 1, 2022, at the hearing in Ibadan, Hon Justice N. Agomoh directed the EFCC to accept service of the Oyo State Government originating processes and pending applications in the full glare of the Court. The Trial Judge also ordered that all forms of arrest and intimidation by the EFCC should cease. The case has been adjourned to March 9, 2022 for the hearing of all applications.
‘The arrest of the Oyo State Accountant General on Friday, February 25, 2022, was a desperate and malicious attempt at thwarting a constitutional process that had already been instituted at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, with a hearing date of Monday, March 1, 2022.
‘The Government of Oyo State refuses to be intimidated, cowed or distracted from its one goal of providing good governance. His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, remains committed to fidelity, accountability, integrity, transparency and honesty which has been the hallmark of this administration since its inception on May 29, 2019 and urges the good people of Oyo State to remain undeterred as this is just another in the series of hurdles that they and indeed all right-thinking Nigerians as a whole must cross in their determination to rescue Nigeria, ‘ it added.