– The Federal High Court in Abuja has stated that the immunity of Governor Ayodele Fayose doesn’t stop anti graft agencies from seizing his properties
– Justice Nnamdi Dimgba validated his earlier order which authorised the EFCC to seize Fayose’s properties
– He said the order of interim forfeiture had a lifespan of 45 days from the date it was issued, ordering the anti-graft agency to conclude its investigation before then Justice
Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, August 2, validated the order he gave on July 20, 2016, authorising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seize some assets belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, pending when the ongoing investigation is completed.
Delivering his ruling on Tuesday, August 2, shortly after hearing an application by Fayose’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), asking the court to set aside the interim forfeiture orders on 10 grounds, the judge said the order did not violate the provisions of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, which confers immunity from civil and criminal proceedings on a governor. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Whatsapp Court okays seizure of Governor Fayose’s properties According to him, the immunity of Fayose or other serving governors doesn’t stop the anti-graft agencies from investigating them for fraud nor from seizing their properties, The Punch reports.
He said: “Although Section 308 of the Constitution serves to isolate governors of states from the distraction of litigation and legal proceedings to enable them to attend to official responsibilities, it should not be interpreted in such a way as to defeat the fight against corruption, to mean that the EFCC or other investigating agencies cannot take a peep into the assets or personal accounts of a serving governor in the execution of a strictly worded and mutually supervised interim attachment orders for the purposes of obtaining evidence for use in future when the immunity has lapsed.”
Dimgba said the order of interim forfeiture made on July 20 had a lifespan of 45 days from the date it was issued, while ordering the EFCC to conclude its investigation within the 45-day lifespan of the order. The judge noted that the order would automatically dissolve if the EFCC failed to serve a motion on notice seeking its extension on Fayose at least five days to its expiration. “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,” he said.
Fayose’s assets affected by the interim forfeiture orders are four sets of four-bedroomed apartments at Charlets 3, 4, 6 and 9; Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos. The two others are at 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja, and Plot 1504, Yedzeram Street, Maitama, Abuja. Fayose’s lawyer, Ozekhome, had on July 21, filed a motion on notice, asking the court to discharge the interim forfeiture order on 10 grounds. He argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain and/or proceed to grant the interim order.
However, the EFCC’s lawyer, Andrew Akoja, opposed the application, insisting that the commission had violated no law by obtaining the order. The commission claimed that the properties were acquired with proceeds of fraud which Fayose allegedly got through kickbacks from contractors and other alleged fraudulent means.
The EFCC also claimed the funds used for the purchase of the property were drawn from the sum of N1,219,490,000 which was said to be part of the N4,745,000,000 allegedly stolen from the treasury of the federal government through the Office of the National Security Adviser.