After two years of legal battle in the suit challenging the constitutionality of the policy of security votes deductions by the governors of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT minister was instituted by Abuja based human rights lawyer, Nkereuwen Udofia Akpan, a Federal High Court siting in Abuja yesterday adjourned till 13 February,
2013 to deliver judgment on the matter.
Akpan had dragged all the states governors before the court seeking for a declaration that the governors lack the power to deduct monies from the statutory allocation made from the Federation Account to each of the states of the federation and the FCT under the guise of security vote.
He wants the court to declare that by the provision of section 16 of the nation’s constitution and section 51 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act
2007 entitles Nigerians to know the details of these gargantuan and mind bogging deductions and expenditure tagged as “security votes” and
wantonly misappropriated and illegally deducted by these state
governors from the statutory allocations that went to each the various states of the federation and the FCT from the Federation Account since the return of democracy in May, 1999 till date.
The activist also wants the court to compel the governors to return the monies illegally deducted and misappropriated as security votes and prevent them from further making any such illegal deductions in the future under whatever guise or nomenclature they may concoct and to compel the EFCC and the ICPC to commence investigation into these illegal, fraudulent and unconstitutional deduction with a view to recovering such misappropriated monies to the Federation Account or such other accounts as the National Assembly may direct by a resolution.
However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related crimes Commission, ICPC, objected to the suit and pleaded with the court to dismiss it.
In its preliminary objection to the suit, the ICPC told the court that it is not empowered to investigate siting state governors and that it can investigate the FCT minister only if a formal complaint is lodged against the minister at the ICPC.
Further more, the anti corruption agency told the court that Chief Akpan had never made any request to the agency either orally or in writing requesting it to investigate the FCT minister or the governors before instituting the legal action and urged the court to throw out the case as granting the requests of Chief Akpan would amount to the court asking the ICPC to embark on an act it has no powers to embark upon.
On its part, the EFCC in opposing the case, told the court that as an anti graft agency vested with statutory powers to investigate all financial crimes, that it has a set of procedure for ascertaining petitions which it considers worthy of investigation, using state fund, its personnel and other relevant legal resources. It noted that the procedure is used to review and eliminate petitions which are in the end classified as “frivolous, unmeritorious, worthless”
The EFCC further told the court that the suit instituted by Chief Akpan over what he described as “security votes” was read and by its Scrutinizing Legal Officer as was classed as “frivolous, unmeritorious, worthless”. It also contended that Chief Akpan lacked the requisite locus standi to institute the action and urged the court to dismiss it.