Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige on
FORMER Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Tafa Balogun yesterday told a Federal high court sitting in Abuja that it was only the Code of Conduct Tribunal that is constitutionally empowered to prosecute him for all the offences he was alleged to have committed as a public officer.
ABUJA—FORMER Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Tafa Balogun yesterday told a Federal high court sitting in Abuja that it was only the Code of Conduct Tribunal that is constitutionally empowered to prosecute him for all the offences he was alleged to have committed as a public officer.
Balogun dragged before an Abuja high court to face a 92-count charge of official corruption and failure to fill assets form.
On the strength of his position that it was only the conduct tribunal that could try him, Balogun is urging the court to void a 92-count charge of official corruption preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the Abuja high court.
He spoke in court yesterday through his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
Mr Balogun has been okayed for prosecution over the charges by the trial judge, Justice Salishu Garba, after assuming jurisdiction on the case.
The former police boss was due for arraignment when the operatives of the EFCC brutalized him while he was trying to resist arrest.
But he had approached the Federal high court, sitting in Abuja more than a month ago seeking interpretation of certain provisions of the 1999 constitution with a view to procuring an order stopping his trial before the Abuja high court.
The matter could not go on trial immediately following an objection filed by counsel to EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs to the hearing of the suit.
At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, Chief Awomolo (SAN) who is counsel to Tafa Balogun contended that the offences of graft and theft allegedly committed by his client were acts done "in the discharge of public duty by a public officer while in public office".
He added that the 1999 Constitution, having established the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal to "exclusively" regulate the Conduct of public officers, he said the constitution did not fathom any other body, particularly the EFCC.
His words: "the Constitution of 1999, having specifically mentioned and designated the Bureau as the person or authority to conduct such investigation, no other person or body, including the EFCC can assume or presume to have equal power with the Bureau.
"We submit that EFCC Act 2004 does not give the Commission and its chairman the power to investigate or supervise or coordinate the activities of the Code of Conduct Bureau".
In his response, Counsel to EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs dismissed Balogun’s argument as balderdash.
He submitted that the entire suit filed by Balogun amounted to a "gross abuse of court process as a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction with the Abuja High Court as the Federal High Court is and cannot be invited to sit in an appellate capacity over a matter that is on-going before the Abuja High Court.
Jacob submitted that "the case should be dismissed as to do otherwise would be an invitation to judicial recklessness and anarchy."
Before adjourning the matter to September 13 for adoption of written addresses by counsel, the Presiding Judge, Justice Stephen Adah ordered a consolidation of the preliminary objection filed by EFCC with the substantive action brought by Balogun and directed Counsel on both sides to file and exchange written addresses.
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