ICPC had approached the Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, on June 21, 2011 asking the court to set aside the ruling of Nasarawa State High Court, discharging and acquitting the Chairman of Toto Local Government and Director of Finance of the council of corrupt practices.
Justice I. A Ramalan, now a retired judge of the state High Court 3, Lafia in Nasarawa State, had in his ruling on 20 May, 2008 discharged and acquitted the two accused of 11 count charge of conspiracy to inflate prices of stationaries and furnishing of false information all contrary to sections 26[c]; 22; 19; and 16 of the ICPC Act.
Lawyer Enosa Omoghibo of the ICPC in an application on June 13, 2011 asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the state court.
On Friday May 2, 2014, justices of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division delivered judgment in the matter in favour of ICPC. The anti-graft agency has asked the Appeal Court to determine four issues.
One of the issues was; whether the learned judge did not err in law when he held that since inflation of items supplied to the local government was not part of the allegations contained in the petition, investigating and prosecuting the accused was an abuse of the commission’s power.
The presiding judge, Hon Justice Obande F. Ogbuinya, of the Court of Appeal in his judgment citing sections 6[a] and 27 of ICPC Act, said the court noted that a petition is just a guide and it is not ultra vires the powers of the commission to investigate and prosecute offences outside a petition or initiate investigations and prosecutions without a petition.
Consequently, the court resolved the issue in favour of the commission.
This landmark judicial pronouncement by the justices of the Court of Appeal has laid to rest misconceptions in some quarters as to whether the ICPC can initiate investigations without relying on petitions.