The Attorney-General of Ekiti State, Kolapo Kolade, has described as unconstitutional the arrest of two commissioners of the state by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr. Kolade made the observation while addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Toyin Ojo, and the Accountant General of the State, Yemisi Owolabi were on Thursday arrested by the operatives of the EFCC over alleged misapplication of resources accrued to the state government.
Mr. Kolade said that the arrest of the two commissioners was unconstitutional and “a display of executive lawlessness”.
The arrest according to him is also against a valid subsisting order issued in 2016 by a Federal High Court in a suit FHC/AD/CS/32/2016 in which the EFCC was a defendant.
He said that the court had refrained the anti- graft agency from “arresting, detaining or investigating any person or persons whether past or present officials in the Ekiti State Government without any report of indictment by the Ekiti State House of Assembly “.
Mr. Kolade said that the order was sought due to the serial arrest and embarrassment of the state officials by the EFCC over issues that did not fall within its purview.
He stated the EFCC was duly served the court order on Nov. 7, 2016, adding that the order had not been vacated either by the court that issued it or a court of higher jurisdiction.
“Following the Interim Order, the EFCC wrote a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for the transfer of the case to another Federal High Court Judge.
” The case was subsequently transferred to the Akure Judicial Division of the Federal High Court.
“The Akure Judicial Division of the Federal High Court sat over the case on the 24th day of January, 2017 and re-emphasized the order made earlier by the Ado Ekiti Judicial Division of the Federal High Court.
“The case was adjourned to 15/02/2017 for hearing.
“However, the Judge referred the case back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to have a second look at the issue of transferring the case to the Akure Judicial Division of the Federal High Court.
“The Order of the Federal High court has not been vacated till date. In other words, the issue of the arrest and or detention of the Ekiti State Government Officials is subjudice.
“The EFCC is not above the law and the Agency is bound to obey lawful orders made by courts as in this case,” he said.
Mr. Kolawole accused the EFCC of acting outside its constitutional mandate by attempting to look into the account books of the state.
He said that the action violated Section 125(5) (6) and 128 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which gives such power to only the State House of Assembly to raise alarm on any act of fraud detected.
Mr. Kolawole said it was only when there was any complaint by the State House of Assembly to the EFCC and, or any other investigative Agency that such Agency could arrest or investigate and financial impropriety.
“Any provision of the EFCC Act that is inconsistent with the above cited provisions of the Constitution shall be void to the extent of its inconsistency.
“By the combined effect of the provisions of section 125 and 128 of the 1999 constitution, it is the House of Assembly of Ekiti State that has oversight functions of the finances of the State.
“It is only when the House of Assembly complains or report an indictment that the EFCC or any investigative agencies can take over.
“More so that the order of the Federal High court is still subsisting.
“The EFCC has all opportunities of challenging or vacating the order which it has failed to do.
“It is crystal clear from the above that the EFCC, without any complaint from the House of Assembly of Ekiti State reporting an indictment, cannot investigate any financial impropriety against the Ekiti State Government or any of its Officials.”
The Attorney-General said that the actions of the EFCC in arresting and detaining the officials of Ekiti State Government portended great danger for the democracy.
“Equally because the arrest and detention came on a day when the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Ayodele Fayose, the state governor formally declared to run against the APC led Federal Government in the 2019 presidential elections.”