The Oyo State Government has condemned the arrest of arrested the Accountant-General of the state, Alhaji Gafar Bello, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Naija News had reported that the anti-graft agency arrested Bello and a yet-to-be-identified politician last week Friday over his alleged involvement in N9billion money laundering.
It was learned that Bello was arrested over the deduction of N9billion from the local government funds to finance the upcoming elections in the state in 2023.
In a statement on Tuesday, the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Wasiu Olatubosun described Bello’s arrest as illegal and unacceptable.
The commissioner said the continued harassment and intimidation of officials of the state government by the EFCC is being contested in a court of competent jurisdiction.
He said officials of the agency have since last year been mounting pressure on the state and its officials to provide documents regarding disbursements and expenditure of some funds and security vote lawfully passed into law by the state House of Assembly.
The statement reads: “The continued harassment and intimidation of the Accountant General and other officials of the state government by the EFCC is totally unconstitutional and unacceptable and is being contested in a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The EFCC and its officials have, since last year been mounting pressure on Oyo State and its officials to provide documents regarding disbursements and expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Contingencies Fund and Security Vote lawfully approved and passed into Appropriation Law of Oyo State by the Oyo State House of Assembly. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has decided in a long line of cases that the EFCC lacks the powers to prosecute issues that are not corruption cases.
“We would like to put it on record that by virtue of Section 128 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, unless and until the Oyo State House of Assembly reports or exposes any corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it to the Executive Governor of Oyo State and Commissioner for Finance, Section 6 (h) of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 (as amended) cannot be triggered.
“The Oyo State House of Assembly has not made any such reports and thus the actions so far by the EFCC and the EFCC Chairman are unconstitutional and ultra-vires.
“In line with this conviction, the Oyo State Government had approached the Federal High Court, in the Ibadan Judicial Division on February 8, 2022, for declaratory reliefs and to among other things, issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants (1. Attorney General of the Federation; 2. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; 3. President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria and 4. The Chairman EFCC) their functionaries or agencies or whosoever from interfering with the activities of any government officials in Oyo State (i.e. any public officer or functionary or officer or servant of the government of Oyo State) in the exercise of powers purported to be conferred by or under the provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004 with relation to the expenditure and or spending of the Oyo State Government or security votes as vested in the Governor of Oyo State.
“The EFCC had brazenly refused service of the processes at the Abuja Head Office for reasons unknown to the law but as of today, March 1, 2022, at the hearing in Ibadan, Hon Justice N. Agomoh directed the EFCC to accept service of the Oyo State Government originating processes and pending applications in the full glare of the Court. The Trial Judge also ordered that all forms of arrest and intimidation by the EFCC should cease. The case has been adjourned to March 9, 2022 for the hearing of all applications.
“The arrest of the Oyo State Accountant General on Friday, February 25, 2022, was a desperate and malicious attempt at thwarting a constitutional process that had already been instituted at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, with a hearing date of Monday, March 1, 2022.”