A High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has slammed N600 million in exemplary damages on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for investigating and subsequently declaring two officials of the Rivers State Government wanted.
Justice George Omereji, in a fundamental human rights matter brought by the Accountant General of Rivers State, Frederick Abere, and a retired Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local government Affairs, Lekia Bukpo, restated that the EFCC had no right to investigate the state government or its officials.
Omereji said he was embarrassed by the actions of the anti-graft agency; EFCC who he said failed to appeal the judgments against it but resorted to self-help by inviting the officials.
He added that the EFCC should first vacate the subsisting order made by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court before taking any action on accounts of the state government.
Omereji also said the letter of invitation of the EFCC was in disobedience to the court order and malicious, adding that only the Rivers State House of Assembly had the right to investigate the financial activities of the state government.
The court, however, declared that N300 million each be paid by EFCC to Federick Abere and Lekia Biokpo as exemplary damages.
Speaking with newsmen in an interview, Counsel to the two officials of the state government, Dike Udenna, said the verdict of the court addressed actions of Federal agencies which take the judiciary for granted.
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, said the court has spoken to teach the lesson that the democracy we are practicing is anchored on the rule of law and the law enforcement should be done within the ambit of the law.