Oyo: Makinde, EFCC at loggerheads

From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Oyo State Government has confirmed the arrest of its Accountant-General, Alhaji Gafar Bello, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He spent four days with the anti-graft agency. But government insisted, his arrest was unconstitutional.

A section of the media had reported that the Accountant-General was arrested over alleged N9billion money laundering, reportedly deducted from the disbursement and expenditure of the consolidated revenue fund, contingencies’ fund, and security votes. EFCC alleged that Governor Seyi Makinde wanted to use the money to prosecute his 2023 governorship re-election bid.

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But Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, questioned the Accountant General’s detention:

“The continued harassment and intimidation of the Accountant Generaland 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.

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“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.

“Government had approached the Federal High Court, Ibadan, on February 8, 2022, for declaratory reliefs and to among other things, issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC, their functionaries or agencies or whosoever from interfering with the activities of any government officials in 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 March 1, 2022, at the hearing in Ibadan, 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 the March 9, 2022 for the hearing of all applications.

“The Government of Oyo State refuses to be intimidated, cowed or distracted from its one goal of providing good governance. The governor remains committed to fidelity, accountability, integrity, transparency and honesty.”