Business

Court backs EFCC Chairman’s appointment by Tinubu, berates “busybodies” suit 

Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit which sought the sacking of the Chairman, of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyode. 

The court’s judgement was delivered on Wednesday in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1403/2023 and filed by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Victor Opatola. 

The suit faulted Olukoyode’s appointment by President Bola Tinubu. 

EFCC is one of the Nigerian government’s anti-graft agencies. 

Plaintiff’s Case against Olukoyode  

The President of Nigeria, National Assembly, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Olukoyede were joined by the plaintiff as first to fourth respondents respectively. 

Opatola asked the court to hold that by the interpretation of Section 2 (1) (a) of the EFCC Act 2004, Olukoyede has not fulfilled the conditions of the Act to be validly appointed as EFCC chairman. 

Section 2 (a) (ii) of the EFCC Act 2004  states that the Commission’s Chairman must be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent; and must possess not less than 15 years cognate experience. 

The lawyer stressed that Olukoyode who was appointed to the office of the chairman of EFCC cannot be said to have fifteen years of cognate experience in any field. 

“A declaration that pursuant to Section 2(1)(a) (ii)(iii) of the EFCC Act, the appointment of Olukoyede to the office of the EFCC chairman is illegal and void.  

“A declaration that pursuant to Section 2(1)(a) (ii)(iii) of the EFCC Act, any confirmation of the 4th defendant’s appointment made by the National Assembly is void and of no legal consequence,” Opatola prayed. 

But Olukoyede’s counsel,  Olumide Fusika (SAN), raised an objection to the plaintiff’s suit. 

He contended that the plaintiff lacked the legal right to institute the suit, maintaining that his client served as Secretary of the Commission, rising to grade Level 17 position. 

According to him, Grade 17 in EFCC is higher than the rank of an Assistant Commissioner of Police. 

The court then fixed today for judgment on the case challenging the EFCC Chairman’s appointment. 

What the judge said 

Delivering his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Egwatu held that the issue of locus standi (legal right to institute a case) constitutes a condition precedent to the institution of any action before a court of law. 

He added that the concept is to protect the “court from being used as a playground for professional litigants, busybodies and meddlesome interlopers and cranks who have no real stake or interest in the subject matter of the litigation.” 

The judge observed from the submissions of counsels and records of the court that the plaintiff had no legal right to bring the suit describing his case as incompetent and that of a busybody. 

 He said in view of the development, the Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and the only order the Court can make in the circumstance is that of dismissal. 

“Having held that the Plaintiff lacks the locus standi to institute this suit, this court concomitantly and or of necessity lacks the jurisdiction to entertain Plaintiff’s suit. 

“The end result, as held in the case of Akande v. Jegede (supra), is that this suit must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction. And it is dismissed for want of jurisdiction on the premise that the Plaintiff lacks locus standi to institute this suit,” the judge said. 

The Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain suits challenging the government or any arm of government. 

However, its judgement can be appealed against if a party wishes. 


Source: TheTimes.com.ng.

Back to top button