Former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Godfrey Dikeocha, has disagreed with a judgement by the Supreme Court which prevents the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from probing the finances of state governments.

He said the decision of the court would encourage corrupt practices among political office holders at the state level.

Dikeocha added that it was impossible for state Assemblies to probe the finances of their various states, calling on the National Assembly to look into the matter.

Earlier in June, the Supreme Court had ruled that the EFCC had no power to look probe the finances of states or prosecute a governor who may have allegedly embezzled from the state coffers

In the numbered SC/CR/161/2020, the Court also barred the anti-graft agency from investigating contractors of state governments or anyone deemed complicit in the alleged embezzlement of state money.

Dikeocha spoke at the launch of an anti-corruption programme, Corruption Tori season three, by Signature TV on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “I don’t agree with what the Supreme Court said recently that the EFCC should not look into the finances of states. I don’t think the Supreme Court was helping us with that because what you are saying is that everybody should do as he likes.

“That is not in the public interest, in fact, that is a signal for corruption to be let loose in Nigeria. Even if they find a lacuna in that, I suggest that the National Assembly make relevant laws to close that loophole. I don’t accept it and it’s not possible for the state assembly that is presently constituted in Nigeria to check what is going on in their states.

“During our own time, we could summon a governor but most state assemblies can not even summon a commissioner. How do you now want them to go and set up an anti-corruption agency that will look into the finances of state governments, it’s not possible.”

He also advised the payment of living wages to civil servants to reduce corruption in the public service to the barest minimum.

The former Speaker explained that it would be difficult for civil servants to abstain from corrupt practices with what they currently earn.

“My take is that if we want to start solving corruption in Nigeria, let us start giving our civil servants a living wage.

“When a child is hungry, the child steals. We are pursuing the small thief and leaving the big thieves.”

In the suit filed by Joseph Nwobike SAN against the Federal Government, the Court held that since the EFCC was created by federal law, it did not have the powers to prosecute offences that are not corruption-related.

It added that the only corruption cases the agency can investigate are cases that involved the movement of cash from Nigeria to foreign countries and those that involved federal finances.

The governors, on the other hand, can only be prosecuted by the Attorney General of the state, the police, or any other agency that is covered by the Criminal Code, Penal Code, or any other law, according to the Court’s ruling.

By Chris

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