A former Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi has entered into an agreement with the Federal Government to refund $8 million believed to have been misappropriated during his tenure.
Consequently, a Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from prosecuting Dikko for financial infraction while in office.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in a judgment on Monday, upheld Dikko’s argument that he can no longer be prosecuted by an agency of the Federal Government after an agreement he entered with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) to refund $8 million to the government.
Justice Dimgba held that since it was proved that such an agreement exists, and Dikko has kept his side of the bargain by paying N1.576 billion ($5.12 million) to the Federal Government through the EFCC funds recovery account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it was wrong for the EFCC or any other agency of government to seek to prosecute him on the same crime.
Justice Dimgba held that by virtue of the provisions of Section 174 of the Constitution, the AGF, being the chief law officer of the federation, was imbued with wide powers and discretion on prosecution matters.
The judge said the claim by the anti-graft agency that it acted on an anonymous petition to commence its investigations “cannot override the discretionary powers conferred on the Attorney-General of the Federation by virtue of Section 174 of the Constitution.”
Justice Dimgba also noted that since Attorney-General did not oppose the suit, the AGF had subscribed to Dikko’s case.
Reflecting on the conflicting positions of the AGF and the EFCC on Dikko’s case, the judge admonished government agencies joined as defendants in the suit on the need to speak with one voice.
“There is a need for government to speak with one voice and not in different tunes that appear to be discordant,” he said.