A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday fixed August 30, 2023, for judgement in a suit filed by the former governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, seeking to halt the probe of his tenure by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other entities.
In the suit with the reference: FHC/ABJ/CS/753/2023, the State Security Service, Nigeria Police Force, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigerian Immigration Services and the Attorney General of the Federation are the first to sixth defendants, respectively.
Matawalle in the suit requests the court to declare, in reference to the judgements issued by Justice Aminu Aliyu on May 31, 2023, in Suit No: FHC/GS/CS/30/2021 involving The Government of Zamfara and the EFCC, that the fourth Defendant lacks authority or power to initiate or conduct investigations, inquiries, and/or charges against him, his family, associates, and contractors in relation to any funds belonging to the Zamfara State Government.
Also, based on the judgement and citing sections 4, 6, and 7 of the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Law No. 12, 2021, he seeks the court’s declaration that only the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Commission possesses the authority and power to investigate allegations of corrupt practices or financial crimes against him or his administration as Governor of Zamfara State.
In an affidavit supporting the suit, Matawalle’s counsel, Kehinde Akinlolu, SAN, contends that the entirety of the allegations made by the Defendants, particularly the 4th Defendant, regarding corrupt practices and misappropriation of Zamfara State funds, are entirely false and fabricated with the intent of tarnishing his leadership and public trust.
Akinlolu further argues that all contracts awarded during Matawalle’s tenure as Governor of Zamfara State followed due legal procedures, were properly documented, and have well-maintained records.
Matawalle asserted that unless restrained, the defendants are likely to unlawfully arrest, detain, and prosecute him, thus infringing upon the existing Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Law and his constitutionally protected right to a fair hearing.
During the proceedings on Tuesday, the counsel representing the first defendant, O.A Aderohumu, requested the court to remove the State Security Service (SSS) from the suit. On the other hand, the counsel for the fourth defendant, M. K Hussein, urged the court to dismiss the suit, citing it as unconstitutional and without merit.
The legal representatives for the third and sixth defendants were absent during the Tuesday hearing.
Meanwhile, the counsel for the fifth defendant, M. B Kannap, presented an oral argument asserting that the Immigration Act of 2015, specifically section 31, empowers the Immigration Service to prevent the departure of individuals who have yet to fulfill court orders or are subject to arrest warrants.
Following the presentation of arguments for and against the suit, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed scheduled the judgement on the matter for August 30, 2023.