By, OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti.
The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital on Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to appear before it on July 4, 2016 to show cause why Governor Ayodele Fayose’s demands on the freezing of his account in the Zenith Bank Plc should not be granted.
The EFCC had last week Tuesday allegedly frozen Fayose’s account numbers 1003126654 and 9013074033 in Zenith bank for alleged money laundering running into N1.2 billion being money allegedly taken from the $2.1 billion arms fund in the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Bello Dasuki.
However, the court deferred ruling on the mandatory order being sought by Governor Fayose to reverse the EFCC’s directive on his frozen account.
Fayose through his lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had through an exparte order deposed to on the 24th of June, 2016 by Bimpe Olatemiju sought a mandatory order defreezing the accounts belonging and operated by him pending the determination of his interlocutory application.
Joined in the suit are the EFCC (1st defendant) and Zenith bank (2nd defendant).
The order was supported by 18-paragraph affidavit, a lone Exhibit, which was a letter issued to Governor Fayose by Zenith bank confirming that the EFCC actually placed a restriction order on the accounts and a written address.
He also sought the leave of the court for the service of the
originating summons on the defendants in their various addresses
outside the jurisdiction of the court as contained on the order
papers, supported by 17-paragraph affidavit.
Ozekhome averred that the order was brought pursuant to order 26 rule 8(1) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule 2009 and Section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution which gives the court the discretionary powers to adjudicate on such matter.
Citing the case of Abdulaziz Nyako Vs EFCC to buttress his position that the anti-graft agency has no power to freeze Fayose’s account without valid court order, Ozekhome added the action was a flagrant negation of the Section 308 of the constitution, which conferred absolute immunity on the governor against civil and criminal procedure.
He said it was appalling that the EFCC could play ostrich to these
valid constitutional requirements and took cognizance of the African Charters on Human and People’s Rights before taking the punitive stand against Fayose, adding that these infractions had rendered the action unconstitutional, wrongful, null and void.
In his ruling, Justice Taiwo Taiwo averred that he quite understood that the applicant (Fayose) enjoys immunity and that the court can adjudicate on this matter as canvassed by the counsel to the plaintiff, but he pointed out that the relief he basically sought was a mandatory order of the court.
“I quite agree that the applicant has immunity pursuant to provisions of the constitution, but it is glaring that the application he is requesting for is a mandatory order to undo what had already been done and the court can’t abdicate its duty under this circumstance.
“I am of the opinion that this mandatory order is better granted with the interlocutory order being sought through an application pending before the court, because the applicant has filed all papers to this effect.
“I hereby ordered the 1st and 2nd respondents to appear before this honourable court on July 4, 2016 and show cause why the order should be refused.
“This is not a refusal of the order, I have not refused it, but I only put it in abeyance which I said without prejudice to what will be the position of the respondents.
“But a leave is granted for the service of the defendants with the
originating summons in their respective addresses as contained on the order papers”, the Judge ruled.
In his submission, Ozekhome said Fayose was being persecuted for being a lone voice against perceived arbitrariness of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
The senior lawyer added that many of Fayose’s dependants, including his 76-year old mother have been made to pass through untold hardship by freezing the accounts of their benefactor and breadwinner.
He said plurality of opinions remains the bedrock of democracy and this dissenting opinions from Governor Fayose shouldn’t have been seen as coming from an enemy of this present government.
Ozekhome told the court to take cognizance of awarding cost against EFCC if the order is eventually granted.