The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says Tuesday’s court order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo in Ado-Ekiti, ordering it to unfreeze Governor Ayo Fayose’s accounts at Zenith Bank may be a legal nullity.
The commission said it would appeal the order.
In a statement, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s spokesman said although the commission is awaiting a certified true copy of the ruling, the judgment contradicted an existing order by a court of equal jurisdiction, to the Ado Ekiti court.
“While the Commission awaits the certified copy of the ruling, it is important to point out that this order contradicts another order by Justice M. B Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos which gave the commission the nod to freeze the accounts pending the conclusion of investigation.
“This order from a court of coordinate jurisdiction was not set aside by Justice Taiwo. In spite of this, the Commission has taken immediate step to appeal the order by Justice Taiwo”, Uwujaren stated.
Justice Taiwo in giving the order, in the case filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, for Fayose, said the EFCC did not follow due process.
The judge said the rights of the governor had been infringed upon, considering the circumstance of his office.
EFCC was wrong, says court
He declared that apart from the immunity which Fayose currently enjoys as a sitting governor under Section 308 of the constitution, it was wrong for EFCC to freeze his two accounts in apparent perpetuity without first investigating him or making him a party.
The judge said 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.
He described Fayose as “a genuinely deprived person who rushed to the court to seek constitutional protection.”
The judge stated that it was also the duty of any presiding judge to protect the said constitution and its interpretations whenever the need arose.
“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 EFCC or its agents from further tampering with his property.
The judge also refused to grant another relief asking for payment of N5billion as exemplary damages.
The judge said: “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.’’
EFCC lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, was absent in court while Fayose’s counsel said the judgment would checkmate the agency against “ brazen arbitrariness and excesses.’’