A’Ibom Slams N50b Lawsuit Against EFCC Over Account Freezing


Government of Akwa Ibom State has filed a N50 billion lawsuit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The government says the lawsuit came as reaction to the freezing of its account by the Federal Government agency for 72 hours, an act which it reported to have crippled both the economy and reputation of the state.
In a suit No:FHe/uy/cs/137/18 between the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State as Claimant, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Attorney General of the Federal, Zenith Bank PLC, Skye Bank PLC and United Bank for Africa PLC as defendants, the Claimant queried;
“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”
“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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Established) Act 2004.”
The writ of summons dated August 17, 2018, issued by Chief Assam E. Assam (SAN) of Lex Fori Partners, and made available to Daily Independent in Uyo over the weekend, commanded the defendants to cause an appearance to be entered within (30) days after service or risk judgement given in their absence.
Giving further insight into the summons at government house, Uyo, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Uwemedimo Nwoko said the anti-graft agency had no constitutional powers to freeze the states government account.
“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 authorizes any federal agency or any agency to shut down the account of a state government as done by the EFCC.
”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,” he said
He said the shut down of state government’s account for 72 hours stalled the economic, security and business operations in the state, regretting that some prospective investors in the state diverted their investments elsewhere, thereby subjecting the state to huge economic loss.
His words: ”That singular attempt of freezing the account of the state government was shutting down the state. Akwa Ibom state was brought down on its knees, it was an attempt to paralyze and completely demobilize 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 thoughts and became worried about the status of their investment. Those who were on their way began to go back. so we suffered unquantifiable losses.”
The Attorney General who described the EFCC’s denial of the freezing as face saving approach, said the state government has every evidence to prove that its accounts were frozen.A
Again, reacting to a report conflicting the Agency’s claims above; of tracing about N11 billion to accounts owned by top lawyers in the country, the Attorney General said the state government had lawyers in its employ and owes them obligation of pay. He therefore queried whether it was unlawful for lawyers who work for a state government to earn their legitimate pay.
He vowed that the state government will pursue the case to its logical conclusion, even to the apex court of legal jurisdiction.