The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Katsina State government are currently at loggerheads over who has the prosecutorial powers over those who have admitted to abuse of office in the previous administrations in president Muhammadu Buhari’s home state.
At a resumed sitting of the Katsina State high court where the ICPC is prosecuting three former officials of the last administration on Tuesday, the state Attorney general and Commissioner for justice, Mr. Ahmed El-Marzuk sought the permission of the court to take over the prosecution of the indicted officials brought by the ICPC.
The request attracted stiff resistance by the ICPC prosecuting counsel, Mr. Nosa Omohigbo who insisted that his team would neither vacate the prosecution nor hand the matter over to the state lawyers.
According to Omohigbo, in the suit number KTHC/8c/2017, FRN vs Nasir Salisu Ingawa on one hand and FRN vs the duo of AbdulAmin A. Shinkafi and Bello Bindawa, the ICPC had established prima facie cases and has enough evidence from investigations to determine culpability on the matter and a takeover could jeopardise the chances of prosecution.
The ICPC lawyer argued that it was a misnomer for the state that is a vested party in the matter to seek fiat to try the accused persons, especially since they are politically exposed persons and had jumped ship from their previous political party.
However, the Attorney general said though the cases were being prosecuted under the ICPC Act, he had sought and got the nod of the Attorney General of the Federation to over the matters from the ICPC that originally filed the matter.
He contended that since the supervisory authority of the ICPC rests in the office of the AGF the ICPC has no locus to fight over what is now being tagged as “stripping ICPC of its prosecutorial powers”.
It would be recalled that both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC have been investigating some former public officers under the administration of Alhaji Ibrahim Shema at the instance of the new government under Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari for abuse of office and corruption.
At the commencement of the trial of the cases against the three officers in March none of the accused appeared in court and were not represented. The cases have suffered a couple of adjournment due to the absence of the accused persons.
Sources in ICPC hinted that the accused persons have recently shifted loyalty to the state government hence the renewed interest by the state to prosecute the accused.
Justice Maikaita of the Katsina state high Court 3 has fixed November 14 to deliver ruling on the propriety of the purported fiat obtained by the State Government from the AGF.