Akwa Ibom state government has filed a N50bn lawsuit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as damages over recent freezing of the state’s accounts.
State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, disclosed this while speaking with journalists in Uyo, insisting that government was determined to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion, as the commission has no powers to freeze government’s accounts.
Joined in the suit with reference No: FHC/UY/CS/137/18 as co-defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation, Zenith Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc.
The state government asked in the suit to determine, “Whether the accounts of Akwa Ibom State Government held with banks or financial institutions fall within the financial crimes enforcement purview of section 34 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Established) Act 2004.
And, “Whether the account of Akwa Ibom State Government with a bank or financial institution can be subjected to a freezing order pursuant to section 34 of the EFCC (Established) Act 2004″
The applicant or claimant, in a writ of summons dated August 17, 2018, filled by the counsel, Chief Assam E. Assam (SAN) of Lex Fori Partners is urging the defendants to cause an appearance to be entered within 30 days after service or risk judgement given in their absence.
Speaking on the freezing of the accounts, Akwa Ibom Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Uwemedimo Nwoko said:
“There is no basis even in the constitution of Nigeria or any other enabling law made by anybody whether the National Assembly or the state Assembly or any other convention that authorises any federal agency or any agency to shut down the account of a state government as done by the EFCC.
That singular attempt of freezing the accounts of the state government was shutting down the state. Akwa Ibom State was brought down on its knees; it was an attempt to crippled the state’s economy and the activity of the state.
We could not respond to economic, security and business exigencies. Most importantly, the investors that were coming to Akwa Ibom began to have a second thought and became worried about the status of their investment.
His words: “I want to state clearly that even if there were to be an investigation that the EFCC was carrying out about whether there was any fraud committed against Akwa Ibom State in that circumstance, it should be the government of Akwa Ibom that should be the victim, so there was no basis for freezing the account they claimed that they were investigating a fraud against that state government.”