- High Court Orders EFCC to De-freeze Fayose’s Accounts
A federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti yesterday ordered the immediate de-freezing of two bank accounts operated by Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, for not following due process.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in June, this year ordered the bank to freeze the accounts following a Federal High Court, Lagos order that empowered it to do so.
The EFCC had allegedly traced part of N4.8b ammunition scam to Fayose’s account.Justice Taiwo Taiwo who gave the order while delivering a judgment in a suit filed by the Governor, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said Fayose’s rights had been unconstitutionally infringed upon, considering the circumstances of his office.
He declared that, apart from the immunity, which Fayose enjoys as a sitting governor under section 308 of the 1999 Constitution as ammended, it was wrong for the EFCC to have gone ahead to seize the two accounts in apparent perpetuity without first investigating him or making him a party.
Justice Taiwo averred that rather than the EFCC freezing the governor’s accounts directly through the third party who did not enjoy any mandate from him, the governor himself ought to have been first investigated and brought into the picture.
He described Fayose as “a genuinely deprived person who rushed to the court to seek constitutional protection.”He said it was also the duty of any presiding judge to protect the said constitution and its interpretations whenever the need arises.
“The plaintiff is entitled to be heard before his property or money can be seized; doing otherwise will amount to denying him fair hearing and constitutional rights”, he said.
The judge, however, refused to grant other reliefs sought by the governor, including a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC or its agents from further tampering with his property, and another one asking for payment of N5 billion as exemplary damages.
“This court will not shield any person from due investigation. Since the police cannot be stopped from investigating a crime, same goes for the first respondent so as not to whittle down its functions,” Taiwo said.
The EFCC lead counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, was absent at the court but Ozekhome described the judgment as the best to be so made against the EFCC in history, saying it would checkmate the agency against years of brazen arbitrariness and excesses.