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Arms scandal: EFCC quizzes ex-DSS DG, Ekpenyong

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Arms scandal: EFCC quizzes ex-DSS DG, Ekpenyong

       …raids residence

 

  • Court summons agency for freezing Benue accounts

 

 

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday quizzed a former Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, over his alleged role in the arms purchase deal. New Telegraph gathered that Ekpenyong’s interrogation commenced shortly after his Asokoro, Abuja home was raided by armed operatives of EFCC. Attempts by EFCC to arrest Ekpenyong, who was the fifth DG of the secret police some months back, were frustrated by operatives of DSS under the leadership of the sacked Lawal Daura.

The development almost degenerated into a shootout as the armed operatives from both agencies were engaged in a fierce verbal confrontation. A security source privy to the development said the operation started a few minutes to 12 noon. The armed operatives were said to have taken over all the entrances to Ekpenyong’s residence while the operation lasted. A source told New Telegraph that documents were taken from Ekpenyong’s residence. The source, who pleaded anonymity, said Ekpenyong is expected to tell detectives how the Service under him expended huge security funds it got as special security funds for the 2015 general elections. The anti-graft agency suspects that not all the funds were used to prosecute the elections.

“Operatives of EFCC were at the residence of the immediate-past DG of SSS today (Thursday), in continuation of their arms purchase investigation. “They actually got there a few minutes before noon and executed their operation in a professional manner. “From the little I know, the former DG may answer questions on how his agency expended millions of naira to provide security and gather intelligence for a smooth election in 2015.” It was gathered that Ekpenyong was still at the anti-graft agency’s headquarters as at 6p.m. It was, however, not clear if he will be allowed to go home on administrative bail.

Efforts to reach the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, for comments failed, as his phones lines did not connect. An official of the antigraft agency last night told New Telegraph that Ekpenyong was released last night. In another development, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to appear before it over the freezing of the Benue State government’s accounts. Already, the agency has unfrozen the account.

 

The vacation judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, issued the order after listening to the submissions by counsel to Benue State government, Emeka Etiaba (SAN). Cited as defendants in the suit are the speaker, Benue State House of Assembly, the clerk of the Assembly and the state auditor general.

The court, however, directed the state government to serve all the relevant processes in the suit on EFFC and other respondents before the next hearing date fixed for August 14, 2018. The suit marked FHC/ MAD/CS/42/18 was filed in Makurdi. But Etiaba secured leave of court for the matter to be heard by a vacation court due to the urgent nature of the issue at hand and since there was no vacation court in Makurdi. In the ex parte motion, Etiaba had prayed the court to issue a preservative order restraining EFCC from investigating the accounts of the state under any guise without due authorisation of Benue State House in Assembly pursuant to Sections 128 and 129 of the constitution. In the suit, the plaintiff wants the court to determine, among others:

“Whether by virtue of Sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of EFCC Act 2004 or any other law, EFCC or any other body, authority or person beyond the 4th and 5th defendants has the power to investigate or inquire into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government, having regard to the clear provisions of Sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). He also wants the court to determine whether in the absence of any resolution duly passed by the Benue State House of Assembly authorising the EFCC or any other body, authority or person to investigate and/ or inquire into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government, EFCC or any other body, authority or person can lawfully and constitutionally embark on such exercise without breaching the clear provisions of Sections 1 (1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution. The court was also asked to determine whether the continued invitations of officials of Benue State government, investigations and/or inquisitions into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government by the EFCC or any other body, authority or person under any guise having regard to Sections 1(1) and (3), 125(2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the constitution do not negate the Doctrine of Separation of Powers as enshrined under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the constitution. Upon favourable determination of the questions, the plaintiff is seeking “a declaration that by the provisions of Sections 6, 7 and 38(1) of the EFCC and any other law, EFCC or any other body, authority or person does not have the power to investigate and/or inquire into the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State Government having regard to the clear provisions of Sections 1 (1) and (3): 125(2). (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the Constitution. “A declaration that in the absence of any resolution duly passed by the Benue State House of Assembly pursuant to Sections 128 and 129 of the constitution authorising the EFCC or any other body, authority or person to investigate the accounts or make inquisitions into the accounts and/ or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government, EFCC or any other body, authority or person cannot commence or continue investigations and/or inquisitions with respect thereof. “A declaration that the demands made by the 1st defendant, invitations of officials of Benue State government and subsequent investigations violate the express provisions of Sections 125, 128 and 129 of the constitution.” The plaintiff also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants from surrendering or sharing their powers of control over the public funds of Benue State as provided under Sections 128 and 129 of the constitution to the 1st defendant or to any other body, authority or person.

 

NewTelegraph 

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