JUSTICE Festus Ntong of the Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Ikot Ekpene has declined an application to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission or any other Federal anti-corruption agency from investigating allegations of corruption involving the finances of the Government of Akwa Ibom State.
The Akwa Ibom State Attorney General, Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko, had filed a suit before Justice Ntong seeking the court to restrain ICPC or any other Federal anti-corruption agency from investigating the government of the state for alleged corrupt practices without prior authorisation by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
The Akwa Ibom State AG had argued in the suit that a federal agency would be acting beyond its powers if it investigated a matter involving an official or agency of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
Nwoko therefore joined the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and the Akwa Ibom State Government as respondents in the matter because, in his opinion, they were not exercising their power and rights to prevent a federal agency from encroaching on their jurisdiction.
Others joined as respondents in the suit included the Inspector General of Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and some banks.
Upon a preliminary objection filed by the ICPC disputing the competence of the court to entertain any claim against the Federal Government or any of its agencies, the trial court ruled that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain such a claim and therefore struck out the case.
It may be recalled that in a similar case brought before the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt by all the 23 Local Government Councils of Rivers State in suit number FHC/PH/CS/432/2010, Hon. Justice Tijani Abubakar by a ruling dated May 31, 2012 dismissed the plaintiff- claim and held that the issue of the constitutional authority of ICPC to investigate any person or authority in Nigeria for alleged corrupt practices had been decided with finality by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Attorney General of Ondo State vs Attorney General of the Federation (2002).
Court Refuses To Stop ICPC From Investigating Cross River House Of Assembly Member
Also, a Member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, (CRHA), Dr Mrs Itam Virginia Abang has failed in her bid to get the Federal High Court, Calabar to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), from investigating her for alleged corrupt practices and abuse of office.
Dr. Abang, had filed for an injunction to restrain ICPC from investigating an allegation of receiving double salary simultaneously from both the Federal Government of Nigeria through the University of Calabar and the Cross River State Government through the state- Rural Development Agency where she was holding an appointment as Director, Health Infrastructure.
In a ruling, Hon Justice I. E. Ekwo held that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit and directed that the case be transferred to the High Court of Cross River State for hearing and determination.