The Abia State Government went for broke on Monday as it threatened to drag the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to court if fails to unseal its some of its assets and estates within seven days.
The state’s position was revealed by the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Uche Ihediwa, who gave the anti-graft agency the ultimatum to remove what it called “offensive notices” the affected assets and estates.
Ihediwa made the position known in a statement he issued in Umuahia, the capital, on some recent developments in the state, especially the sealing of some properties reportedly belonging to a highly placed politician in the state.
The Attorney General urged the EFCC to tender an unreserved apology to the state within seven days for what he termed as the embarrassment and inconvenience its action had caused the state.
Ihediwa said the assets marked by the EFCC belonged to the Abia State government. He maintained that the government went into partnership with credible investors for the development of the property under a public private partnership (PPP). The reversionary interest in the property, the Attorney General insisted, resides in the state government.
Ihediwa said the law establishing the EFCC empowers the commission to only seal properties of persons under investigation; yet the ownership of the affected property was not under probe.
The Justice Commissioner recalled that in 2016, the EFCC investigated the ownership of most of property and the certificates of occupancy and the PPP arrangement between the state government and investors in various assets.
Disclosing that the title deeds of the assets and estates were with the Ministry of Lands, the commissioner condemned the action of the EFCC, describing it as unwarranted and unlawful. More curious, he said, the anti-graft agency never , inquired from the state government about the ownership of the property.
The sealed assets include the Abia Mall, the Adelabu Housing Estate, the former township main market at Ogwumabiri, the Millennium Luxury Apartment, Abia Hotels and Linto Estate, Old Timber Market, all in Umuahia, the state capital.