By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” Hear-ing in the suit filed against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by Bayelsa State Government at the Federal High Court, yesterday, suffered a temporary setback as the presiding judge, Justice R.M. Aikawa, failed to turn up.
Bayelsa State government had last week dragged the anti-graft agency before the Yenagoa division of the Federal High Court, seeking the latter to stop the EFCC from investigating it.
Others joined in the suit as defendants are Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, the State House of Assembly and the Clerk to the House of Assembly.
The suit, FHC/YNG/CS/16/10, which was listed for hearing, yesterday, was adjourned to 13 May 2010 when it became obvious that the newly transferred judge, Justice Aikawa, could not make it to court after the counsel to the applicants and defendants had waited for more than two hours.
Counsel to Bayelsa State Attorney-General, Messrs Efedayo Adedipe (SAN), and counsel to the EFCC, Barristers Chidinma Metuonu and Osom Makbere, agreed on the 13 May 2010 date for the hearing of the suit.
â€œWe have taken 13 May 2010 because the judge is not coming to court today,â€ said Adedipe, who spoke to newsmen..
Applicants in the case are Accountant-General of Bayelsa State, Mr. Francis Okukuro, Attorney-General of Bayelsa State, Abbot Clinton, and Anthony Ikhobo, while the EFCC is the respondent.
The state government, through the Attorney-General is asking the court to determine â€œwhether, under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the EFCC is entitled to share with Bayelsa State House of Assembly in its powers of control of public funds of Bayelsa State, including the power to inquire into or investigate the disbursing, administering or management of the funds of Bayelsa State.â€
Bayelsa government also asked the court to determine whether the EFCC had the power to instigate, coerce or induce the speaker and House of Assembly to investigate the finances of the state.
In his written address in support of the originating summons, the Attorney General also wants the court to determine whether the EFCC was invested with any power to investigate the management of the funds or the financial affairs of the state government.
The AG in his submissions before the court, argued that the EFCC â€œas an agency of the Federal Government does not have the authority to investigate how a state government runs its finances. To do so will amount to interference in the autonomy of the state.â€
He also averred that only the Speaker and House of Assembly could probe the financial activities of Bayelsa State government.