Court Permits Suits Challenging the New EFCC Chairman, Olukoyede’s Eligibility

The Federal High Court has given the green light to two separate lawsuits seeking to oust Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, the newly appointed chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). These legal actions were initiated by lawyers Mr. Stanley Okawara and Mr. Maxwell Opara.

The first lawsuit, marked FHC/KN/CS/280/202, was filed in Kano State, while the second lawsuit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1410/2023, is currently pending in Abuja.

Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Kano court has scheduled a hearing on October 30 to consider a motion on notice seeking to prevent Olukoyede, whose appointment received Senate confirmation on October 12, from exercising the powers and privileges of the office, as well as drawing salaries and emoluments. This injunction will remain in effect until the suit is heard and determined.

The plaintiff, represented by Mr. Jideobi Johnmary, had initially sought an interim injunction against Olukoyede through an ex-parte application, but the court ordered the plaintiff to inform all the defendants.

Defendants in the case include President Bola Tinubu, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, and the EFCC. Justice Liman also instructed the plaintiff to include Olukoyede and the EFCC Secretary, Muhammad Hammajoda, as the fourth and fifth defendants.

The court further allowed the plaintiff to serve the court documents on President Tinubu through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN. Substituted service on the Senate President was also permitted.

The time for all defendants to appear and file their respective processes was shortened to 15 days.

The plaintiff is seeking a determination of whether President Tinubu has the constitutional authority to appoint someone who is not a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency, not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent, to the position of the EFCC Chairman. The plaintiff is also questioning whether the Senate President has the constitutional power to screen and ratify someone without the specified qualifications.

Upon resolving these legal questions, the plaintiff seeks an order to prevent anyone appointed by President Tinubu, without the requisite qualifications, from assuming the duties of the EFCC Chairman. Additionally, the plaintiff requests an order nullifying and declaring void any such appointment that occurs before the court’s judgment is delivered.

In the case pending in Abuja, the plaintiff, Opara, questions the legality of appointing a person not statutorily qualified to be the EFCC Chairman by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The plaintiff also challenges whether a legal practitioner can equate to the rank of a government security or law enforcement agent without formal enrollment. He seeks to nullify Olukoyede’s appointment and obtain an injunction against him holding the position.

The defendants in this case include President Tinubu, the Attorney-General of the Federation, EFCC, and Olukoyede, though the case has not yet been assigned to a judge for a hearing.

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