An Abuja Federal High Court, on Tuesday, ruled on the case between the Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to the presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgva, the immunity clause granted to some holders of public office doesn’t shield them from investigation by state security agencies.
The court held as valid the temporary order granted in relation to some assets identified as that of Fayose, saying that the seizure of the assets by the EFCC did not violate Section 308 of the constitution.
Fayose, through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had filed a petition to stop an interim attachment by the court to the EFCC.
The governor’s assets involved in the order include: four sets of four-bedroom apartments at Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9, Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos. Others are 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and Plot 1504 Yedzeram Street, Maitama Abuja.
The EFCC, in affidavit, had alleged that the said properties were bought using monies obtained fraudulently.
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba said that, “It is my considered opinion that the order of court, made on July 20, 2016 in respect of some property of the applicant, and within the limited scope and duration within which it was obtained, was duly procured and does not offend the provision of the Constitution referred to.”
The judge noted that Section 308 of the constitution only protects governors from distraction of legal processes and to enable them dispense their official duties. He further said that the section cannot be in the way of corruption or disallowing anti-graft agencies to investigate the personal accounts and assets of a sitting governor.
“In the light of the above, I hold that the applicant is not entitle to the reliefs sought and are hereby refused.
“However, in the interest of justice and not to appear to make a mockery or nonsense of the immunity clause, I hold that the interim attachment order of July 20, 2016, granted by this court in favour of the respondent (EFCC) shall last for 45 days as the court had already ordered, within which the respondents must conclude their investigation in respect of those property, at the end of which every encumbrance on the property arising from the order of court, must abate.
“I order that in the event that the respondent may wish to renew the interim attachment order as they are entitled to, they must serve the motion to that effect on the applicant not later than five days to the expiration of that order, without which the order shall stand abated.”