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EFCC Can’t Probe Ekiti Finances – Court

The Federal High Court sitting in Ado –Ekiti said on Tuesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cannot look into the books of state governments without a report of indictment from their legislatures.

The court held that carrying out of such probe by the anti-graft agency violates Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which prescribes separation of powers.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo also held that banks are not entitled to submit, release or disclose to any person, body or agency, including the EFCC or any other investigating body any document and financial records.

The judge gave the verdict in a suit filed by Ekiti State Attorney General against the EFCC and the Inspector General of Police.
Other defendants in the suit are – the Clerk of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Auditor General of Ekiti State, Accountant General of Ekiti State and Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board.

The rest are – Skye Bank Plc, Access Bank plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc First Bank Plc and Union Bank Plc.
The suit was filed following the receipt of letters from the EFCC inviting some government officials to give details of some transactions made by the state government.

The Commission also sent letters to banks seeking release of Ekiti State government financial records.
Justice Taiwo held that the EFCC cannot usurp the powers of oversight functions vested in the House of Assembly under Sections 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution to initiate a probe or criminal proceedings against a state official.

He ruled that only the state legislature is vested with oversight and investigative roles over state finances, appropriation and implementation after receiving a formal report from the Auditor General or the Accountant General as the case may arise.

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