Delta State government has asked the Court of Appeal in Benin, to set aside a decision by a Federal High Court, Benin, declining jurisdiction to entertain a constitutional suit seeking pronouncement on the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The suit seeks to audit the state government’s account under its immediate past Governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
The State Government gave four separate reasons why it asked the court to nullify the court’s decision.
In the notice of appeal it filed at the registry of the court through its Counsel, Mr Ken Mozia, government is contending that the trial High Court erred in law by declaring that the EFCC had powers to demand from it, crucial documents necessary for the auditing of its account after it declared that it had no jurisdiction to determine the issues contained in the constitutional suit placed before it.
“Jurisdiction is a threshold issue in any suit. When a court holds that it lacks jurisdiction to hear a case, it also lacks the jurisdiction to decide the question or reliefs sought in the case.
“This is more so when Section 6 of the EFCC Act 2004 on which the court relied in reaching the decision that Exhibit A (letter by the EFCC to Delta government) is competent is one of the sections presented to the court to determine its constitutionality vis a vis provisions of Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution,” it said.
Besides, the state government is inviting the court to set aside the ruling of the trial court on the ground that the judge erred in law by declining jurisdiction when the subject-matter of the suit fell within cases that could be handled by a Federal High Court.
Justice G.C. Okeke, made the ruling following an ex-parte motion argued by the plaintiffs in the case between the Attorney-General of Delta State, Delta State Government, Secretary to the Delta State Government and Auditor-General of Delta State.
The court also granted an order stopping EFCC and the Attorney-General from freezing any of the state’s bank accounts in Nigeria.