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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 09:09 GMT
Nigeria ex-governor halts probe
Peter Odili
Peter Odili had immunity for eight years as Rivers state governor
A former governor of an oil rich Nigerian state has won immunity from investigation by anti-graft agencies.

Former Rivers state governor Peter Odili cannot be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a court has ruled.

In a case last year, the Port Harcourt court barred the federal agency from investigating state finances. The injunction now includes Mr Odili.

Mr Odili who denies corruption, has long been a target of the EFCC.

State vs Federal

Just before he lost his official immunity from prosecution when he left office in May last year, Mr Odili secured an injunction preventing the EFCC from investigating the state's finances.

He argued the Federal Government had no legal right to the state records.

The EFCC appealed against the injunction and it has yet to come to court.

But the EFCC also launched a fresh investigation into Mr Odili, saying he had not been part of the original inquiry.

But a judge said the injunction remains valid until a higher court rules otherwise.

The EFCC has said it will appeal the decision.

Anti-corruption campaigners say the ruling has no basis in law.

The BBC's Alex Last in Lagos says Rivers State is, on paper, the wealthiest region in the country with an annual budget of $1.3bn.

But it has seen few improvements made in recent years despite its oil-wealth.

Our correspondent says President Umar Yar'Adua has promised to fight corruption and uphold the rule of law, but this may be a case where one is being used against the other.

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