Proceeds of Crime: EFCC Descends on Famous APC Governor as Court Issues Final Verdict

Proceeds of Crime: EFCC Descends on Famous APC Governor as Court Issues Final Verdict

  • The EFCC lacks the power and right to prosecute Governor Bello Matawalle based on his immunity granted by section 308 of the 1999 constitution
  • This was the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja read by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Friday, October 14
  • The court advised the commission to wait until the Zamfara governor leaves office before arraigning him in court

Abuja - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been restrained from confiscating six properties traced to Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle.

The restraint was placed on the EFCC by the Federal High Court in a ruling read on Friday, October 14, by Justice Inyang Ekwo, Daily Nigerian reports.

Governor Matawalle
The court said Matawalle still has immunity as a sitting governor (Photo: @Bellomatawalle1)
Source: Twitter

Relying on the provisions of section 308 of the 1999 constitution, the court in Abuja noted that Governor Matawalle retains absolute immunity to civil and criminal proceedings.

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The court, therefore, ruled that the commission lacks the power to initiate any criminal proceedings against Matawalle while he is still in office as governor.

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This was also as the court agreed with the prayer made by the northern governor's legal representative, Ahmed Raji (SAN), who maintained that the anti-graft agency's suit is an abuse of extant processes hinged on the Nigerian constitution.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said:

”From the avalanche of evidence placed before the court, there is no contest or dispute on the ownership of the properties.
“And from the position of the law, especially Section 308 of the Constitution, EFCC has no other option than to wait till the end of tenure of office of the respondent.
“The owner of the properties, having shown up and found to be a serving governor, protected by Section 308, EFCC’S suit is no longer sanctioned by law and any action, not sanctioned by law, is an abuse of court process."

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The presiding judge advised the EFCC to wait till the end of the governor's tenure before instituting any allegation against him.

The properties in question include Plot 729, Idu Industrial Layout; Plot 1327, Cadastral Zone AO5, Maitama District; Plot 2934, Cadastral Zone, AO6, Maitama District and Plot 730, Cadastral Zone AO6, Maitama District.

Others are Plot 28048, Cadastral Zone, Maitama District, and Plot 515, Cadastral Zone, BOO, Kukwaba District.

Legal practitioner speaks with on Matawalle's case

A Nigerian lawyer who spoke with on the verdict said the court's postion is backed by the provisions of the constitution, adding that no sitting governor can be prosecuted in issues related to his office as well as the abuse of it while he or she is still in service.

However, the lawyer noted that the said immunity does not apply to personal cases like murder, assault (of any sort and degree).

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He explained that if a governor is guilty of any of these, they will be arraigned in a court and tried accordingly.

Tension as EFCC discloses Matawalle buying Abuja properties with "proceeds of crime"

Matawalle had been revealed to be under investigation for alleged money laundering by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency said it decided to investigate the governor after it gathered intelligence indicating that Matawalle was allegedly “using state funds to acquire several properties worth billions of naira in Abuja”.

According to the commission, a preliminary investigation showed one of the properties the governor had bought is located at Plot 729, Cadastral Zone C16, Idu Industrial Estate in Abuja.


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