Court Gives EFCC Green Light To Probe A/Ibom Government’s Accounts

Udom-Emmanuel-Akwa-Ibom-StateAn order of interim injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from investigating the accounts of Akwa Ibom State Government as well as some of the state’s past officials, has been vacated.

Justice Ntong Ntong of the Akwa Ibom State High Court, sitting in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa-Ibom State, vacated the interim injunction on Friday.

It would be recalled that the court had on July 13 ruled in favour of an ex-parte motion filed before it by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, seeking an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government or any of its agencies, including the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Inspector General of Police from arresting, detaining or investigating any official of the state government, past or present, without any report of indictment by the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.

The state government was believed to have rushed to court to secure the order in a desperate bid to shield the immediate past governor of the state, now Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, from investigation and possible prosecution.

However, the EFCC, through a motion on notice, filed on August 2, 2016, approached the court to quash the injunction.

At the resumption of the matter yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Ben Ubi, told the court of an application dated July 29, 2016 and filed on the August 2 asking the court to vacate the restraining order.

In response, Mr. Nwoko argued that his seven days to respond to the application by the EFCC had not elapsed, adding that he had filed a motion on notice for the enlargement of the lifespan of the interim injunction.

But Justice Ntong, having listened to arguments on both sides, vacated the interim order of injunction and then adjourned the matter to October 19 for hearing of the preliminary objection of the EFCC alongside other applications

The legal fireworks initiated by the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice against the EFCC and other agencies, were sparked by a petition received by the EFCC against some governors and officials of the past regimes in Akwa Ibom State.

The vacation of the restraining order on the EFCC has now paved ways for the commission to continue its work in that regard, the Head of Media and Publicity for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Friday

“Also, the vacation of the order has also voided an earlier order restraining the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Clerk of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the Auditor General of Akwa Ibom State and the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State from surrendering themselves or any document or financial records to the EFCC, ICPC or any other person”, Mr. Uwujaren added.