…threatens legal action against anti-graft agency
Abia State Government, on Monday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to remove the notices placed on some assets and estates of the government.
The anti-graft agency had last week sealed off some property allegedly belonging to a top politician in the state in Umuahia, the state capital.
EFCC operatives had sealed property, including Abia Mall, Adelabu Housing Estate, Millenium Luxury Apartment, Abia hotels, Linto Estate and Old Timber Market, among others.
State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uche Ihediwa, who issued the ultimatum at a news conference, demanded EFCC to tender an unreserved apology to the state within the specified period, failing which the state would seek redress in court.
Ihediwa disclosed that most of the properties marked by the EFCC belonged to the state government, adding that the state duly entered into partnership arrangements with credible investors for the development of those properties under Public Private Partnership.
The Commissioner deplored the EFCC’s action, saying it was unlawful.
Ihediwa lamented that the anti-graft agency didn’t contact the state government to ascertain the ownership of the said properties, whose title documents are domiciled in the State Ministry of Lands, before embarking on the sealing of the property.
He explained that the law establishing the EFCC makes it clear that the Commission can only seal property of persons under investigation, insisting that the ownership of the property in question is not under investigation.
The Abia attorney general noted that in 2016, the EFCC also investigated the ownership of most of the properties and the certificates of occupancy as well as the public-private partnership agreements between the state government and investors of the various assets. He further stated that the EFCC’s action was capable of scaring investors away from the state.