The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, cannot be compelled by an order of mandamus to investigate or prosecute anybody. In a unanimous ruling by Justices Jimi Olukayode Bada, Ejembi Eko and Regina Obiageli Nwodo, the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, on June 13, 2012, held that the power to investigate and prosecute any suspect is discretional.
Besides, the court further ruled that there is no statutory duty on the EFCC to publish or disclose its investigation report before prosecution but that there is an obligation on the Commission to communicate to the petitioner the outcome of the petition.
The ruling followed an appeal filed by Alhaji Sani Dododo who had in 2008 petitioned the EFCC for the investigation and prosecution of Alhaji Adamu Aliero, former governor of Kebbi State for alleged corrupt practices committed by him while he was the governor of the state. Dododo had also demanded that the Commission should make the outcome of the investigation public by publishing same.
When he received no response that his petition was receiving attention, he filed an application at the Federal High Court, Abuja for leave to compel the EFCC by an Order of mandamus to comply accordingly.
Dododo’s application was thrown out at the High Court on the grounds that the Commission could not be compelled by an Order of mandamus to investigate and or prosecute any person. He proceeded on December 1, 2009, to the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision of the High Court.
“The order of mandamus is not order of right nor is it issued as of course. There must be refusal to perform some statutory duty imposed upon it or when it has misconceived the duty imposed upon it to such an extent that it might be said that there has been a refusal to perform the duty. In the instant case, there is no duty to publish the investigation report. See Fawehinmi v. AG supra, the court below rightly so found there is no provision under EFCC act to publish the investigation report. That is sufficient to hold that the relief sought against the Commission by the appellant cannot stand”, the justices ruled.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
11th July, 2012.