Ebun Francis || The anti-graft agency, EFCC, has described a ruling by the Court of Appeal in Lagos that it cannot prosecute a serving Judge as a “dangerous precedent,” and has vowed to appeal the ruling before the supreme court.
The court of appeal court had earlier on Monday ruled that the EFCC lacked the powers to prosecute serving judges until they are dismissed by the National Judicial Council, NJC.
The court gave the ruling following an appeal which Robert Clarke, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) filed on behalf of Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, a serving judge of the federal high court.
The EFCC had arraigned Nganjiwa on a 14-count charge before Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos high court sitting in Igbosere.
According to the charge sheet, Justice Nganjiwa allegedly received $260,000 and N8.65 million through his bank accounts between 2013 and 2015 from suspicious sources.
The Judge, the anti graft agency said, allegedly used the money to enrich himself as a public official as it did not correspond with his salary, an offence contrary to section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos state, 2011.
But reacting to the judgment, the EFCC in a statement by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, vowed to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.
The statement read, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is to appeal against the ruling of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, which today held that the agency lacked powers to investigate or prosecute serving judicial officials except where such officers have been dismissed by the National Judicial Council”.
“The Commission considers the ruling a dangerous precedent that has no basis in law and, is confident that the Supreme Court will upturn the judgment.
“Criminal trial takes precedence over administrative procedures and it is strange that the Court of Appeal wants to put the cart before the horse. This is ridiculous! The appellate court simply wants to confer immunity on public officers from prosecution for corruption, it will not stand,” Mr. Uwujaren said.