Justice Minister Abubakar Malami says the newly enacted Lagos anti-corruption law can’t stand as it conflicts with federal law.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had in April signed the Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2021 into law.
The move, according to Governor Sanwo-Olu, was to deepen the culture of accountability and transparency in the expenditure of appropriated public funds in the state.
However, Mr Malami while Speaking on a Channels TV broadcast on Wednesday stated that any state law that that does not coincide with provisions of the constitution cannot stand.
Buttressing his point further, the attorney general said that federal laws can never be made subservient to state and local laws.
“The law is clear, where there is an inconsistency between the federal law and a state’s law, the state law naturally gives way,” Mr Malami said.
“So I think it is a function of law we have been looking at it from the perspective of law and we shall certainly do the needful within the context of consistencies or otherwise. There is no way you can make Federal law subservient to local law, it is a constitutional provision, and within the context of legislation, the state must naturally operate within the constitutional bounds,” He added.
Provisions of the Lagos state anti corruption law restrict Federal anti-graft agencies from investigating anti-corruption cases relating to officials of the state, raising concerns on its operations as against that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Acts.
Section 13(3) of the Lagos anti-corruption law read: “The commission shall upon the commencement take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of Lagos State Government being investigated by any other agency.”
Also, section 13(5) states that: “The commission shall have the power to the exclusion of any other agency or body to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption and financial crimes cases involving the finances and assets of the state government.”
Many believe that the law would shield the state’s speaker Mudashiru Obasa who is under EFCC investigation for corruption as well as former Lagos state Governor Bola Tinubu whom the anti-graft agency have been snooping around.
Peoples Gazette had in March reported that EFCC requested Bola Tinubu’s asset declaration documents from the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The anti-graft office in November 2020 asked the asset fraud investigation office to supply details of Mr. Tinubu’s asset documents as part of an ongoing probe of the politician, according to a copy of the request obtained by The Gazette.
However, experts have continued to argue that it will be impossible for the newly enacted law to coexist with that of federal anti-graft agencies.