A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday ruled that the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, cannot stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from investigating him.
Justice Binta Nyako said this while delivering judgment, on Friday, in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/60/09 filed by El-Rufai against the anti-graft agency and others.
The governor was seeking the court’s determination whether as the then minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he had complied with the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the sale of Federal Government houses between May 2005 and May 2007.
While El-Rufai was the applicant, the defendants from 1st to 13th include: EFCC, FCT minister, FCDA, AGF, CBN, Oceanic Bank, Access Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Aso Savings and Loans Ltd, Union Homes, Akintola Williams Deloite and Aminu Ibrahim & Co.
In the originating summon brought pursuant to Section 302 of 1999 Constitution and Section 3 and 18 of the FCT Act 1990, El-Rufai also sought court’s determination: “whether the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005 – May 2007 were properly accounted for or not in accordance with the FEC mandate and guidelines to the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA).
“Whether the sum of N32 billion (or any sum whatsoever) is missing from the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government Houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007.” The Kaduna State governor also sought the court’s relief on “a declaration that the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT was conducted in accordance with the Federal Executive Council mandate to the FCTA through the Ad hoc Committee for the sale of non essential houses in Abuja.
“A declaration that the proceeds of the sale of the said Federal Government houses conducted by the Ad hoc Committee on SOGH in Abuja between 2005 and 2007 were properly accounted for in accordance with the mandate and guidelines approved by the FEC.
“A declaration that the Audit Report prepared by the 12th and 13th respondents on the sale of Federal Government Houses in the FCT confirms that the Sale of Federal Government houses in FCT complied with the approved guidelines for the sale of Federal Government properties in FCT and the proceeds were properly accounted for.
“A declaration that the proceeds of sale of Federal Government Houses in FCT between May 2005 and May 2007 were properly apportioned and accounted for in accordance with the approved guidelines as confirmed by the Audit Report of the 12th and 13th respondents, dated July 20, 2007.
“A declaration that the sum of N32 billion (or any sum whatsoever) from the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government of Nigeria Houses in FCT between May 2005 and 2007 is not missing.
“An order directing the 2nd respondent to disclose the exact amount remitted to the 5th respondent as the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007. An order directing the 5th respondent to disclose the exact amount received from the 2nd respondent as the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007.”
Justice Nyako had earlier, in her judgment, granted El-Rufai’s prayers. However, in the Friday judgment, the judge noted that the EFCC had called the court’s attention to its counter-affidavit in objection to the prayers. The anti-graft agency, in its counter-affidavit, had submitted that the motive of the applicant was to stop the commission from investigating him in order to cover up the alleged fraud perpetrated when he was FCT minister.
Justice Nyako, who held that the earlier judgment delivered still stands, however, declared that no court would stop the EFCC from investigating anyone in line with its constitutional mandate.
“No court, including this one, will allow itself to be used to shield anybody from being investigated by the 1st respondent,” the judge held.