GOVERNOR Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has lost a legal battle to prevent the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from investigating him after an Abuja high court ruled that the agency had the right to probe his activities when he was a minister.
Between 2003 and 2007, Governor El-Rufai served as Nigeria’s minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the EFCC has been probing his sale of federal government houses between May 2005 and May 2007. However, the governor went to court to get the probe stopped by today, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled that the commission had the right to investigate his role in the sale.
In his suit, Governor El-Rufai asked for the court’s determination whether as the then FCT minister, he had complied with the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council for the sale of the houses. He has also sought the court’s relief on a declaration that the sale of federal government houses in the FCT was conducted in accordance with the mandate to the FCT authority, through the ad-hoc committee for the sale of non-essential houses in Abuja.
Governor El-Rufai had questioned whether the sum of N32bn or any sum whatsoever was missing from the proceeds of the sale of federal government houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007. He also sought a declaration that the proceeds of the sale of the said houses conducted by the ad-hoc committee between 2005 and 2007 were properly accounted for in accordance with the mandate and guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council.
Justice Nyako, however, ruled that the EFCC had called the court’s attention to its counter-affidavit in objection to the governor’s prayers. In its counter-affidavit, the EFCC had submitted that the motive of the applicant was to stop the commission from investigating him in order to cover up the alleged fraud perpetrated when he was FCT minister.
In her ruling, Justice Nyako declared that no court would stop the EFCC from investigating anyone in line with its constitutional mandate. She held: “No court, including this one, will allow itself to be used to shield anybody from being investigated by the first respondent.”