By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€”THE Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has been told to respect the laws of the country. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who made the appeal during a meeting ofÂ the executives of Nigeria Bar Association in Port Harcourt, accused the anti-graft agency of operating outside the ambit of the constitution.
Amaechi, who titled his address before the forum, â€œPhysician heal thyselfâ€, said the anti-graft body had failed toÂ accept that it lacked the powers to investigate a government. He charged the Bar to call the EFCCâ€™s boss to order since she is one of them.
The governor said he chose to go public with the issue because the anti-graft body was the first to hit the media with it, thus creating the picture that he (Amaechi) was running a corrupt government. He said the commission had failed to reverse a judgement which placed restrictions on its ability to investigate a government.
“The physician today, physician today, Mr. President, is the NBA, and why do I want them to heal themselves?Â You have two principal officers in key positions in the present administration at the federal level. They are lawyers, and belong to the NBA.
The first principal officer is the EFCC. And since the EFCC is an act of law, it means that it cannot act outside the law.Â There is a judgment of a Federal High Court of Nigeria that said to EFCC, â€œyou have no powers by law, or the Constitution of Nigeria to investigate a state governmentâ€.
I have challenged EFCC to appeal that judgment but up till today EFCC is yet to appeal that judgment. Instead, EFCC is busy witch-hunting people.Â Before they even start investigation, they have gone to the press. They first take it to the public and pass judgment.Â Please convey this to the EFCC Boss, because she is a member of your organization. Thatâ€™s why I said â€œPhysician heal thyselfâ€.
Tell her to obey the rule of law.Â We will not let her into Rivers State anymore because there is a subsisting Court judgment.Â I thought they said it in law that when there is judgment, you discharge it at a superior court.Â Until you discharge it, you act within the confines of that law.Â I am not a lawyer; nobody has taught me that simple logic.
Please advise her to appeal that judgment.Â What we see in EFCC law is an attempt to take away the responsibility of State Houses of Assembly.Â I said this because I am ready to face the public.Â You know once you challenge the EFCC they say you are corrupt.
She has tried to present to the public that I run a corrupt government, thatâ€™s why I decided to come publicly, because I am tired of enduring the pain of people pleading that I should not speak, and all that, and have decided to speak out.
This is the first time I am speaking out publicly on this matter.Â Please convey to her, that she should please challenge that judgment. I have told her privately, now I am going public, let her challenge the judgment before the Court of Appeal, if not she will not be let into the state anymore to take anybody except she challenges that judgment.Â That is the rule of law.
The next person that I say â€œPhysician Heal Thyselfâ€ is the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation. .
It is only in Nigeria , that the Attorney General interprets laws.Â This is wrong.Â This is one queer thing in the Judiciary or Justice System in Nigeria , that you will pass a judgment that affects government and the Attorney General will interpret it.
It is only a Superior Court that would interpret the judgment.Â He lacks such jurisdiction and now sets aside judgment.
I will tell you one of the judgments the Attorney General of the Federation set aside.Â The Akwa-Ibom State Government wrote a petition to the President over oil well allocations.Â And I will tell you the history of the oil allocations.
There is a Court Judgment, of the â€œSupreme Courtâ€ in the Abia State and 35 others versus Federal Government.Â And the Judgment, according to Justice Oguntade of the Supreme Court, is that littoral boundaries, that is boundary between coastal states, can only be determined by Uncloss, Strict Equi-distance.
The Supreme Court further confirmed that in a case between Cross Rivers State and Akwa Ibom State .Â But first let me give you the background.Â In that judgment, 172 oil wells, after the NBC has set out the boundary, fell under Rivers State .Â The rest came from Cross River to Akwa Ibom.
You know politicians, they met and said for the interest of peace, 72 oil wells should go back to Cross River , Rivers State this is your 172, please give Akwa Ibom 86 and you keep 86.. My predecessor accepted it. Me, I would not have accepted it because there is a Supreme Court judgment, but he accepted and there was peace.
My brother now, the new Governor of Akwa Ibom petitioned to NBC; he did not challenge the Supreme Court Judgment, he merely petitioned the NBC.Â The NBC responded and said, we are applying the Rule of law in Cross River verses Akwa Ibom, so they took back the 72 oil wells from Cross River to Akwa-Ibom.
They came to the boundary between Rivers and Akwa Ibom, and said, we are going to apply historical boundary.Â The question is why apply two separate principles in two similar instances to determine such a matter.
So the NBC, with the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission took our oil wells to Akwa Ibom.Â They took Cross River oil well under the Rule of Law, and under the â€œRule of manâ€, they took Rivers State oil wells.Â But before that happened, I had gone to court, and the Court said, remain at status quo.Â The Attorney General of the Federation, in writing, when the Federal Ministry of Finance sought his opinion, wrote and said they should undermine that order.
â€œIn writing!, and they started paying Akwa Ibom State Government.Â That is a Lawyer, a member of the Nigerian Bar Association.Â That is why the physician should look at himself first before he heals me.Â I wish he was here so that he would have utilized his right to reply.Â So the Federal Attorney General has set aside an order of the Court.
Even if that order was given in a lower court, he should have gone to a higher Court, and not for to administratively set aside the order of the Court.
I have told my lawyers, donâ€™t border about the 86, we are now asking for our all our172 oil wells, because that is the Supreme Court Judgment.Â If they want to set aside the Supreme Court Judgment, they should set it aside, because that is the judgment that gave the Federal Government off-shore oil wells.Â And I have two off-shore oil wells whose proceeds would wipe-out the whole oil wells they gave to Akwa-Ibom.