The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Monday held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lacks the powers to investigate or prosecute a serving judicial officer.
In the landmark ruling delivered by Justice Obaseki Adejumo, the appellate court held that the EFCC could investigate or prosecute a judicial officer only when such officer has been dismissed or retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The court consequently struck out the criminal charges filed by the Commission against Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, a serving judge of the Federal High Court.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwajiaren while describing the ruling as ridiculous and a dangerous precedent that had no basis in law said it would appeal Monday’s ruling at the Supreme Court.
Should the ruling be upheld by the apex court, it will have serious implications on the anti-corruption crusade as all other alleged corruption cases instituted by anti-graft agencies in the country against serving judges will inevitably collapse.
The EFCC had dragged Justice Nganjiwa before a Lagos State High Court for allegedly collecting a total of $260,000 and ₦8.65million in gratification to enrich himself between 2013 and 2015.
Apart from giving false information to the agency, the EFCC further claimed that the judge could also not explain the source of his wealth and that he acted contrary to Section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No.11, 2011.