Group Sues Lagos House Of Assembly & 3 Ors, Seeks Suspension Of Some Provisions Of Lagos Anti-Corruption Commission Law


*Says By Doctrine Of Covering The Field, The Commission Cannot Exist Side By Side With EFCC

A Civil Society group under the umbrella of Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International has filed a suit against the Lagos State House of Assembly over the Anti-corruption Commission Law it recently enacted.

In the suit marked FHC/Abj/Cs/630/21, the group equally listed the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, the Clerk of the House, and Attorneys-General of Lagos and Federation.

The matter was commenced via Originating Summons and the group wants court to determine “whether having regard to the totality of the provisions of Section 4 and 15(5) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the doctrine of covering the field as espoused by the Supreme Court in Attorney-General of Ondo State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt.772) 222 Section 13(3) and (5) of the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law, 2021 can become operational in the face of the existence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act”

Also, that “if the answer to question one (1) above is returned in the negative, whether the operation of Section 13(3) and (5) of the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law, 2021 should not be suspended”

If the above questions are resolved in its favour, the group asked the court to declare “that having regard to the totality of the provisions of Section 4 and 15(5) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the doctrine of covering the field as espoused by the Supreme Court in Attorney-General of Ondo State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt.772) 222 Section 13(3) and (5) of the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law, 2021 cannot become operational in the face of the existence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other 2 Related Offences Commission Act.

“AN ORDER of this Honourable Court suspending the effect and operation of Section 13(3) and (5) of the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law, 2021 until and unless Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act are repealed.

“AN ORDER of INJUNCTION of this Honourable Court restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants from giving effect, in whatever manner, to the provision of Section 13(3) and (5) of the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law, 2021 until and unless Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act are repealed.”

In its ground of summons, the Plaintiff argued that going by the definitions of “State” and “Government” in section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the directive under section 15(5) of the Constitution that “the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of government” applies to all the three tiers of government. In that case, the power to legislate in order to prohibit corrupt practices and abuse of power is concurrent and can be exercised by the Federal and State Governments by virtue of Section 49(2), 4(4)(b) and 4(7)(c) of the Constitution, Chief Olafisoye v. Federal Republic of Nigeria [2004] 4 NWLR (Pt. 864) 580.

The group added that although the power to legislate on the subject of corruption and abuse of office is given to the National Assembly and State House of Assembly, when both exercises the power, the legislation by the National Assembly will prevail by virtue of section 4(5) of the Constitution. It tried on the case of Attorney-General of Ondo State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt.772) 222.

The impugned provisions are that 13(3) “The commission shall upon the commencement of this law take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of Lagos State Government being investigated by any other agency.”

Section 13(5) of the same law provides that:
“the commission shall have the power to the exclusion of any other agency or body to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption and financial crimes cases involving the finances and assets of the state government.”

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