By Lukman Olabiyi
JUSTICE Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Lagos has said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) can investigate former president Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on Niger Delta and coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Dr. Kingsley Kuku over alleged financial impropriety.
The court also held that the anti-graft agency has the right to arrest Kuku if he refused to honour the commission’s invitation.
Justice Abang, however, ordered EFCC to comply with the law and respect his right not to be detained beyond 24 hours.
The judge ruled that the travail of the former special adviser had nothing to do with his political affiliation.
Justice Abang made the declarations in a rights suit filed by Kuku against the EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Kuku prayed the court for protection against his possible arrest and detention by the EFCC and DSS.
The applicant, who is on medical treatment abroad, alleged that there was a plan to arrest him at the Lagos airport on his return to the country.
Kuku said unless the court intervened, he might be arrested and detained by the EFCC. He said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was allegedly instigating his arrest.
The EFCC, however, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit. The anti-graft agency also asked the court not to grant any order stopping the investigation of those alleged to have stolen public funds. It informed Justice Abang that it had received a petition from one Dada Olubisi on behalf of former militants complaining of malpractices in the disbursement of the amnesty fund.
The anti-graft agency insisted that it was empowered under Sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 to investigate financial crimes as well as arrest suspects.
Delivering his ruling, Justice Abang held that the court had jurisdiction to hear Kuku’s suit. He, however, dismissed the applicant’s claim that APC was behind the petition against him.
“It is my humble view that the invitation sent to the applicant is lawful and constitutional.
The court cannot stop a statutory institution from performing its constitutional duty,” the judge held.
The court, however, restrained the respondents from unlawfully arresting the applicant. It ordered EFCC to comply with the law in investigating any allegation against Kuku.