Party Leaders Allege Plot To Freeze Senate, Saraki, Govs’ Accounts

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Forty-five political parties that paid a solidarity visit to Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday alerted those present of an alleged plot to freeze the accounts of Saraki, the Senate, and state governors.

Regardless, Saraki expressed the hope that anti-democratic forces in the country had learnt their lessons in the past few days.

He said the National Assembly would continue to follow due process and rule of law and would not stand by to see the nation’s democracy wasted.

Speaking on behalf of the parties, the National Chairman of National Unity Party (NUP), Perry Okpara, said, “We have it on good authority that there are moles in the Senate and there are moves to freeze the accounts of the Senate, the Senate President, and governors.”

Okpara, who further revealed that there was a new plot to overthrow the leadership of the National Assembly, added that the move was to cripple the parliament.

“We wish to alert Nigerians of a new plot by the same people, whose first shameful attempt to unlawfully overthrow the leadership of the National Assembly failed – an attempt, which brought Nigeria to bad international limelight. We have it on good authority that a fresh plot is being hatched to make another attempt to cripple the parliament in the guise of impeachment, even when they know that there is no constitutional majority to achieve the sinister move.

“We wish to state that we, the chairmen and leaders of political parties, will not support or stand by to watch any unconstitutional impeachment of the leadership of the National Assembly,” he said.

Okpara, who didn’t mention the name of the agency plotting to freeze the accounts of Saraki, the Senate, and the governors, said the political parties would not sit by and watch the country slid into anarchy, where life would become short, brutish and lawless.

He said, “Nigeria is gradually turning into a failed state and all the institutions of state have been compromised and desecrated. This is the time to rise in defence of democratic values and nationhood.”

The parties condemned the use of the police, Department of State Services (DSS) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to clamp down on the opposition, the leadership of the National Assembly, and lay siege to state Assemblies.

He added, “Today, our country is facing the challenges of pervasive insecurity, massive joblessness and unemployment, ethnic irredentism and disunity.

“We enjoin the National Assembly to use its constitutionally guaranteed powers to legislate to arrest the slide; to give the country a new direction and create hope for our countrymen and women.”

Okpara disclosed that the political parties had disassociated themselves from the attempt by Accord Party to undermine the constitutional powers of the National Assembly to determine the sequence of elections.

He said, “We note that the courts have rejected attempts by the Accord Party to undermine the constitutional powers of the National Assembly to determine the sequence of elections. We, majority of the political parties, disassociate ourselves from that inglorious attempt.”

The political parties that were present were United Democratic Party (UDP), Rebuild Nigeria Party (RNP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Progressives Peoples Party (PPP), Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Young Democratic Party (YDP), among others.

Court Summons EFCC Over Freezing Benue Govt’s Accounts

A vacation judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to appear before it over the freezing of Benue State government’s accounts.

The media was awash with reports on Wednesday that the anti-graft body had frozen the accounts of the state.

Justice Quadri issued the order on Thursday after listening to the submissions by counsel to Benue State government, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), who led another senior advocate, Emeka Okpoko.

Other defendants in the suit are the Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly; the Clerk, Benue State House of Assembly; Benue State House of Assembly, and the Auditor-General, Benue State.

The court, however, directed the state government to serve all the relevant processes in the suit on the EFCC 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, especially since there was no vacation court in Makurdi.

In the ex parte motion, Etiaba had prayed the court to issue a preservative order restraining the EFCC from investigating the accounts of the state under any guise without due authorisation of the Benue State House of Assembly pursuant to section 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 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act 2004 (EFCC Act) or any other law, the 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).

“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 or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of Benue State government, the 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.

“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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and any other law, the 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, the EFCC or any other body, authority or person cannot commence or continue investigations and/or inquisitions with respect thereof.

“A declaration that the commencement or continued invitations of officials of Benue State government on account of investigation of Benue government accounts, 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 without authorisation by the 2nd to 4th defendants vide a duly passed resolution negate the doctrine of separation of powers as enshrined under sections 4, 5 and 6 of the constitution.

“A declaration that 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 amount to usurpation of the powers of the Benue State House of Assembly and the auditor general, Benue State, having regard to sections 125 (2), (4) and (6), 128 and 129 of the constitution.

“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.

“A declaration that the 2nd to 4th defendants are not permitted to surrender or share their powers of control over the public funds of Benue State as provided by the constitution to the 1st defendant or any other body, authority or person.

“A declaration that the EFCC Act is an inferior legislation to the constitution and where any provision in the Act ultra vires the provisions of the constitution, such provision becomes null and void and of no effect.”

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.

The suit is supported by a 35-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Samuel Orchir, who averred that the business of governance has suffered tremendously by the intermittent interferences and demands by the EFCC, on the officials of the Benue State government to furnish it with documents relating to the accounts and/or appropriations, disbursements and administration of the funds of the state.

He also averred that some officials of the state were invited and detained by the EFCC and thereby denying the state of their services.

EFCC Unfreezes Benue Govt’s Accounts

Meanwhile, Benue State government has said that the EFCC has unfrozen its bank accounts.

Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, confirmed this on Thursday.

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