A Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, on Tuesday, set aside an earlier order of a Federal High court, Lagos empowering the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to freeze two accounts of Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose.
The court consequently ordered the EFCC to immediately unfreezing of the two accounts belonging to the governor without further delay, on the account that the anti-graft agency did not follow due process.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo who gave the order while delivering a judgment which lasted more than two hours, in a suit filed by the governor, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said the rights of the governor had been unconstitutionally infringed upon, considering the circumstance of his office.
He declared that apart from the immunity which Fayose currently enjoyed as a sitting governor under section 308 of the constitution, it was wrong for the EFCC to have gone ahead to seize his two accounts in apparent perpetuity without first investigating him or making him a party.
He 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.
However, the judge refused to grant other reliefs sought by the governor, including a perpetual injunction restraining EFCC or its agents from further tampering with his property, and another one asking for payment of N5billion as exemplary damages.
“This court will not shield any person from due investigation.
“Since Police cannot be stopped from investigating a crime, same goes for the First Respondent so as not to whittle down its functions”, the judge said.
EFCC lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo was absent at the court but Fayose’s lead counsel, Ozekhome, in his reaction described the judgment as the best to be so made, saying it would checkmate the agency against years of brazen arbitrariness and excesses.