The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has accused the state government of frustrating prosecution of suspects through continued litigation.
The state commissioner, Shola Shodipo, lamented that the action of the State government had stifled the operation of the anti-graft agency from swinging into appropriate action.
He, however, urged the people of the State not to relent in submitting petitions, assuring that soon the people would begin to feel the impact of the commission.
Shodipo, who was represented by the ICPC Head of Legal Services, Kalu Ugbo, made this comment in Uyo on Monday, at an event to commemorate the World Anti-Corruption Day 2019, tagged: “United Against Corruption”.
He made a case for the establishment of anti corruption court to reduce the stress of prosecuting offenders as obtained in other climes.
“The State Government took ICPC to court and we have been in the court for the past four to five years now, from Federal High Court Ikot Ekpene to Federal High Court Calabar and Appeal Court.
“So, because of the legal battle, and until the matter is determined, the people of Akwa Ibom have not felt the impact of ICPC, because if you are being taken to court you cannot do anything until the matter is revolved in the court.
“We have so many petitions against so many people in Akwa Ibom State but we cannot try them because of the pending matter in the court and if you do anything in contrary that will amount to contempt of the court. That is why it looks as if nobody has been prosecuted from Akwa Ibom State.
“We know that very soon, Akwa Ibom people will start knowning that there is ICPC in Akwa Ibom State.
“In the year 2000, Akwa Ibom state government was a party in a suit between Auditor General of Ondo state and Auditor General of the Federation and the 34 states of the federation, Akwa Ibom State was in it. So now for Akwa Ibom State Government to take ICPC to court when we are not trying the State Government is worrisome.
“We have no power to try the State Government, or the individuals working in the government establishment. So, these were the people we invited but before you know it, the Attorney General of the state now ran to court, first to Federal High Court at Ikot Ekpene, the matter was struck out, they ran to appeal court and the matter is still pending, all in a away to scuttle the mandate of the Commission. So that is the predicament that ICPC is facing now.
“We do not have the power to audit the account of the State Government, it is only the job of Auditor General of the state. We just invited some officials of the State Government that we felt have gone contrary to the ICPC act, so we do not know whether the government is afraid or not, ours is to do our work as it should.
“We are in court now and we will keep on receiving petitions from well fared Akwa Ibom people, but we cannot invite them because there is an order from the Federal High Court that we cannot invite anybody from Akwa Ibom State.
“There is need for the establishment of anti corruption court that will take charge of all criminal cases against corrupt practices as in any other part of the world.”
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