- A federal high court has ordered the EFCC and two banks to jointly pay the Benue state government N100million
- The ruling was due to the freezing of the Benue state government's account last year
- The judge declared the action of the EFCC as illegal, null and void, saying that the order was not obtained from a Federal High Court
A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, on Tuesday, February 12, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and two commercial banks to jointly pay N100 million to the Benue state government for freezing its accounts last year.
Delivering judgement in the suit number FHC/MKD/CS/46/2018 filed by the Benue state government challenging the legality of the EFCC freezing its accounts, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon ordered the anti-graft commission to pay the government the sum of N50 million as damages, while the two banks are to each pay the sum of N25 million.
Justice Olajuwon stated that the Benue government accounts that were frozen do not fall within the classes or categories of accounts liable to be frozen by the EFCC.
She declared the action of the EFCC as illegal, null and void, saying that the order issued by EFCC to the banks to freeze Benue government accounts was not obtained from a Federal High Court.
The judge thereafter granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining EFCC from further freezing Benue state government accounts domiciled in financial institutions.
In a reaction, the Benue state attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Mr Michael Gusa described the judgement as sound, adding that the the Ortom administration believes in the rule of law and due process, and would not fail to challenge any act of illegality on the state.
Six months ago, the EFCC ordered the freezing of the accounts of Benue state government in banks on the premise that the governor’s security vote was being investigated.
The Benue government, however, approached the court seeking a declaration that EFCC acted against the law when it directed the banks to freeze its accounts.
The EFCC had also disclosed that it had begun probing the Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, for alleged fraud to tune of N22 billion.
The anti-graft commission also revealed that 21 members of the Benue state house of Assembly are under investigation for allegedly embezzling N375m meant for the procurement of vehicles for oversight functions.
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