Court Restrains EFCC from Arresting, Rivers Govt’s Contractors, Lawyers

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, has restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting or detaining contractors, lawyers, professionals and service providers who have rendered services to the Rivers State Government.

The court also restrained the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation from inviting and detaining officials of the Rivers State Government for investigations.

Ruling Thursday in Suit Number: FHC/PH/CS/101/2018 filed by the Rivers State Attorney-General against the EFCC and AGF, the presiding judge, Justice Hilary Oshomah, also restrained the EFCC and the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from interfering with the accounts of the Rivers State Government, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Oshomah also issued: “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining 1st and 2nd Defendants/Respondents (EFCC/AGF) from inviting or further inviting, arresting and or detaining contractors (engaged by the Rivers State Government to carry out projects), professionals (including lawyers) or service providers to the Rivers State Government who have been paid by the State Government, for the purpose of investigating, probing and or interfering in any manner whatsoever with the management of the Rivers State consolidated fund.”

The court further issued: “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining 1st and 2nd Defendants from giving any effect or further effect to the letter dated August 7, 2018 wherein EFCC invited some officials of the Rivers State Government on August 20, or any date for that matter”.

The judge also restrained the EFCC and AGF or their agents, servants and privies from retrieving/demanding the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of any officials of the plaintiffs, contractors executing projects, lawyers or vendors who have received payment for the purpose of probing or interfering with the accounts of the Rivers State Government pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The court further restrained the EFCC and AGF from directing Zenith Bank and Access Bank to furnish them with the bank account details, record books and/or any document for the purpose of probing, investigating or interfering with the accounts of the Rivers State Government, until the determination of the substantive suit.

The court held that the preliminary objection dated September 3, 2018 filed by the EFCC against the suit lacked merit.

According to the Court, the Motion on Notice by the Rivers State Attorney-General dated 24th September, 2018 was meritorious in its entirety.