The former governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) of continuing with a plan to arrest him and portray him unworthy of political leadership in the country through their purported investigation into his tenure.
Bello, who is among the ministerial nominees approved by President Bola Tinubu, made this known in a suit he instituted before Justice A.R. Mohammed seeking among other things, declaratory reliefs barring the EFCC, NPF, ICPC, EFCC, NIS and Attorney-General of the federation (1st to sixth defendant) from arresting or prospecting him after a previous court judgement had restrained them from contemplating such action.
Part of the reliefs he sought are as follows, ” A DECLARATION THAT having regard to the Judgment of this Honourable Court, Gusau Judicial Divis ion, Coram: Hon. Justice Aminu B. Aliyu delivered on 31 day of May, 2023 in Suit No: FHC/GS/CS/30/2021 between THE
GOVERNMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE & anor v. THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION and anor., and the provisions of Sections 4, 6 and 7 of the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Law No. l2, 2021, the Defendants, any other authority, person, body or organization other than the Zamfara State Anti-Corruption Commission have no authority or power to arrest, arraign and/or prosecute the Plaintiff on the basis of any investigation, report or
allegation bordering on any alleged corrupt practices/financial crimes against the Plaintiff or his administration as Governor of Zamfara State.
“A DECLARATION THAT having regard to the Judgment of this Honourable
Court, Gusau Judicial Division, Coram: Hon. Justice Aminu B. Aliyu delivered
on 31 day of May, 2023 in Suit No: FHCIGS/CS/30/2021 between THE
GOVERNMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE & anor v. THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION and anor., and the provisions of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 amended), the Defendants, any other authority, person, body or organization have no power or authority to threaten to arrest, arrest or detain the Plaintiff with respect to his administration as Governor of Zamfara State, on the basis of any purported report of any committee/panel or a purported report of any
investigation, when the Plaintiff was neither heard nor afforded an opportunity to be heard during such investigation or deliberation of such commitee/panel.”
In his affidavit seen by THE WHISTLER filed by his lawyer, Kehinde Akinlolu SAN, the former governor contended that despite a Zamfara Court judgment restraining the EFCC from inviting or arresting his client, the plans were still ongoing.
“The totality of the purported findings and conclusions of the defendants, particularly the 4th defendant (EFCC) by which they alleged corrupt practices and diversion of public funds of Zamfara state against him are utterly false and contrived to render him unworthy of leadership and public trust,” he stated.
He argued that all contracts awarded by Matawalle’s administration as Zamfara governor were awarded following due process.
At the resume hearing on Tuesday, Kehinde adopted all his processes before the court and urged Justice Mohammed to enter judgement for the plaintiff as prayed in the amended originating summons.
O.A. Aderonmu, who stood in for the Department of States, countered the submissions of Matawalle’s counsel, and urged the court to strike out the name of the secret service in the suit.
Counsel for the EFCC, M.K Hussein opposed the suit of the plaintiff and urged the court to dismiss it for lacking in merit, for being unconstitutional and amounting to an abuse of judicial process.
N.B. Kannap, who held the brief of Yakubu Yoriyo, the NIS lawyer at the proceedings, said though the Immigration Service have not filed any process in the matter but the reliefs being sought against the NIS is for the service not to arrest, detain or seize or deal in any manner with Matawalle’s travel documents and his right to travel out of Nigeria.
He urged the court to be guided by Section 31 of the Immigration Act, 2015 which gives the service power to refuse the departure of any person from Nigeria if the NIS is aware of any court order, warrant of arrest or an order from the Minister of Interior in respect of that particular person.
He urged the court to strike out the case.
“This suit is reserved for judgment on the August 30,” Justice Mohammed said after hearing from the lawyers representing the parties present in court.
Recall that the EFCC led by its suspended Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa had said the anti-graft agency was tracking Matawalle over allegations of diverting public funds to the tune of N70 billion.
But the ex-governor had replied the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, accusing Bawa of asking him to pay a 2 million dollars bribe for his investigation to be stepped down.
A Federal High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State, subsequently restrained the EFCC from further inviting, arresting or detaining present or past officials of the Zamfara State government including the outgone governor Bello Matawalle with respect to how funds meant for security votes, estacodes, traveling allowances or any similar facts were expended by the administration.
Justice A. B. Aliyu had agreed with Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, in the matter between Government of Zamfara State against the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, that the power to interrogate the disbursement and utilization of state funds appropriated is constitutionally vested in the State House of Assembly and the Auditor-General of the State, not the EFCC.