Lagos State House of Assembly has signed into law a bill on public complaints and anti-corruption. A bill that aims to establish the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission has been passed into law. Section 14 (2) states that the Commission shall be responsible for the:

(a) enforcement and due administration of the provision of this law.

(b) investigation of all financial crimes and anti-corruption cases in the state.

(c) coordination and enforcement of all anti-corruption and financial crime law and enforcement functions conferred on any other person or authority with regards to the finances and assets of the state Government.

(d) adoption and enforcement of measures to ensure transparency in the management of resources of the State Government.

(e) adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate, or seize proceeds derived from acts of corruption and financial crimes related offences or properties, the value of which correspond to such proceeds.

The fundamental issue for determination is whether the Lagos state House of Assembly is vested with the requisite legislative competence to enact a law or create a commission when an Act of the National Assembly has effectively covered the subject matter. It has been argued that corruption is neither in the Exclusive list nor concurrent list and as such, the states can legislate upon the subject matter.

This is indeed an unprecedented constitutional issue. To resolve the above dilemma, the constitutional doctrine of covering the field must be adopted. Section 4 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of federal Republic of Nigeria provided inter alia that if any law enacted by the state House of Assembly is inconsistent with the law made by the National Assembly, the Act made by the National Assembly shall prevail and the other law shall be void.

The case of Attorney general of Abia state V Attorney of the federation provided a judicial favour to the above constitutional principle. However, Hume V palmer (1926) emphatically addressed the issue. The court stated that "by prescribing the rule to be observed, federal statute shows intention to cover the subject matter and provides what the law upon it shall be."

A careful perusal of the Acts creating the EFCC and ICPC, it is glaring that the National Assembly intended that these commissions shall have nationwide prosecutorial applicability. Any attempt to foreclose their statutory responsibilities is an anathema to the Constitution itself. We cannot emphasize enough the implications of having a state and federal commission performing identical obligation capable of truncating the needed transparency and accountability in the fight against corruption. The court must be invited to adjudicate on this issue. Corruption is alive and well in our society. Every strata of the society must do the needful especially the judiciary.

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