A subsisting Federal High Court judgment will have to be vacated before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) can investigate the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State government said Wednesday.
The government reiterated that the anti-graft agency has no power to investigate the financial transactions of the state.
This followed a statement credited to EFCC’s Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu on Tuesday that the judgement that has been preventing the commission from investigating the financial transactions of the state government will not stand.
Magu, who ranked the state (Rivers) second highest in money laundering in the country, trailing Lagos State, said the oil rich state status of the state exposed it to such high-level of financial criminality.
But, in a swift reaction, Information and Communications Commissioner Paulinus Nsirim said Magu would be acting ultra vires without first vacating the judgment.
He said: “EFCC can only investigate the government, only if the Federal High Court judgment that declared that barred the commission from doing so is vacated, and until then, the EFCC boss should stop claiming what he has no powers to do.
“Magu cannot claim that that judgement cannot stand, except he wants Nigerians to believe that he has started issuing instructions to the Supreme Court.
“It is unfortunate that in a democracy, someone holding a public office would want to muzzle the court.”
On the allegation that the state is Nigeria’s second capital of money laundering, ranking next to Lagos, the Information commissioner wondered how the EFCC arrived at that conclusion.
Paulinus said: “To justify this allegation, the EFCC should make public the names of people they have arrested and prosecuted in Rivers State over money laundering. If this is not done, Magu’s statement would just be seen as mere playing to the gallary to enjoy cheap publicity.”
He stated that the Rivers State government will support EFCC to fight corruption within the ambit of the law, but will reject any attempt to subvert the rule of law in the state.
The commissioner admonished Magu to be patient and desist from the illegality of arrogating to himself the judicial powers of courts.
“The EFCC should desist from self-help and unnecessary political propaganda as it will yield no results,” the commissioner counselled.