Supreme Court cautions against harassment of state officials pending outcome of suit
The Supreme Court has cautioned Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies against harassing officials and associates of the Kogi State Government pending the determination of a suit instituted by the Attorney General of Kogi State against the Attorney General of the Federation challenging the constitutionality of Acts establishing some anti-graft agencies, including the Proceed of Crime Protection and Prevention Act 2022, and their applicability to the state.
The Acts mentioned in the originating summons include those establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
When the matter came up before the full panel of the Supreme Court on Tuesday (today), May 23, 2023, Counsel to the Attorney General of Kogi State, Abdulwahab Muhammed, SAN, drew the attention of the Court to the continued harassment and even arraignment of associates of Kogi State Government in various Courts despite the pendency of the Suit that was filed in February 2023. Chief A.A. Adeniyi, SAN, also represented the plaintiff (Kogi State AG).
However, Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, T.A. Ghazali, SAN, who was in Court, strangely claimed not to have been served the Originating Process.
The full panel of the Court, led by Hon. Justice Amina Augie, in reaction to the concerns raised by Counsel to the plaintiff (Kogi AG), was unequivocal in making it clear to all parties that once a dispute had been submitted to the Court, and in this case, the apex Court of the land, all persons and authorities in Nigeria are expected to stay further action and await the outcome of the suit.
The Court, therefore, advised parties to stay further action on the subject of litigation pending the outcome of the suit and adjourned the hearing of the substantive originating summons to October 10, 2023.
The Attorney General Of Kogi State had, in February 2023, in Suit No. SC/178/ 2023, approached the Supreme Court to vide an originating summons to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to determine the Constitutionality of the EFCC Act, the ICPC Act, the NFIU Act, the Proceed of Crime (Prevention and Management Act) 2022.
He contended that, going by the pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Joseph Nwobike V.FRN to the effect that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption is the precursor to the EFCC, NFIU, ICPC and Proceed of Crime (Prevention and Protection) Act, and that these laws, having not been enacted in consonance with Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), are unconstitutional and have no applicability whatsoever to Kogi State under whatever guise.
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