A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State of Nigeria, has granted Bayelsa’s ex-governor, Seriake Dickson, judicial immunity from further investigation and prosecution by EFCC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The order of court was in respect of undeclared assets held by Seriake Dickson between 2007 and 2020, while he was governor.
The Presiding Judge, Hon Justice Isah H. Dashien, while ruling on a suit numbered FHC/CS/81/2021, filed against the EFCC by the Registered Trustees of the Seriake Dickson Incorporated and Senator Seriake Dickson, respectively, declared that the assets acquired with loans when the former Governor was a member of House of Representatives should not be investigated any further having been declared before the Code of Conduct Bureau which issued a certificate of verification for them.
Dickson had approached the Federal High Court in Yenagoa on the 15th of November, 2021 with six prayers including a declaration that the EFCC is bound by the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting at Yenagoa Judicial division in suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/40/2020: the registered trustees of the Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated &another vs Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated vs Attorney-General of the Federation.
Also sought was “a declaration that by the virtue of the judgement and order of the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/YNG/CS/40/2020, the registered Trustees of the Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated & another vs Attorney-General of the Federation ,the defendant in this suit, as an investigating and prosecuting agency under the attorney general of the Federation cannot investigate or continue to investigate any matter whatsoever dealing with or relating to any investments made by the first plaintiff as covered or affected by the said judgement and orders of the competent court.”
Justice Isah H. Dashien, consequently ordered that “the suit filed succeeds and judgment is hereby entered for the plaintiffs in terms of all the relief sought”
According to the Court, “That the Registered Trustees of the Seriake Dickson Incorporated and Senator Seriake Dickson, respectively as first and second plaintiff, declared that the EFCC cannot lawfully arrest, investigate and/or prosecute the former Governor who declared the assets in question and for which the verifying authorities, the CCB issued certificates of verification before he became Governor”.
The Judgment affirmed an earlier verdict of the Federal High Court which stated that the former Governor had complied with all the constitutional requirements of the CCB in asset declaration. Therefore it was contrary to the stipulation of the Law for the EFCC to open investigation into assets that were declared over the years before the relevant body, the CCB, and for which the CCB issued verification certificates.