A former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN), has said it is unlawful for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to invade a state and commence unilateral investigations of her finances.
Speaking during a special appearance on African Independent Television’s (AIT) morning magazine programme, Kaakaki, on Wednesday, Chief Okocha noted that the State House of Assembly has oversight functions over a State governor.
He said: “The State House of Assembly has oversight functions over the governor of Rivers State. What is the business of the EFCC in a state when we are in a federation? We are not a primary school administered by a headmaster. It is totally unlawful.
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“We have a proverb that says if I have my money and I want to use it to buy groundnut, it is not your business. What is the business of the EFCC? Is the money of Rivers State the money of the Federal Government?”
He said monetary transactions by the Rivers State Government will not lead to any misfortune for the federal government to warrant the invasion of Rivers State by EFCC.
“What economic misfortune will the spending of Rivers State money bring or visit on the federal government? It is totally unlawful,” Okocha said.
He said it was illegal for the EFCC to freeze the accounts of Akwa Ibom and Benue States and described the focus on Rivers State as totally unlawful.
“We operate a federal system of government. What that indicates is that a measure of self government is given to the states.
“They receive their funds direct from the federation account. They control and disburse their funds in accordance with the appropriation laws made by the Houses of Assembly of the states.
“And they are perfectly entitled to deal with the funds as whoever is the State Chief Executive deems fit. What will you say if, tomorrow, you hear that EFCC has frozen the account of the federal government because it wants to investigate whether the federal government or that the president exceeded the limit of spending? It is unheard of,” he said.
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He said there was a court pronouncement in 2007, under the administration of Dr Peter Odili, that the EFCC has no business investigating the State, adding that nearly 11 years after, EFCC has not successfully appealed the judgment.
Okocha noted that the attacks by EFCC maybe geared towards crippling the states by the federal government.
“I see this as a calculated attempt to stifle operations of certain states that, perhaps, the federal government considers are not friendly.
“You know there was a time they froze the account of the governor of Ekiti. The court made a pronouncement that they have no such powers. This is all along the same line.
“EFCC is now turning out in this fight against corruption to appear as if it is an attack dog against perceived enemies of the federal government,” he said.