Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose has secured another judicial victory against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his accounts domiciled at the Zenith Bank which was frozen last year.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday threw out an application for injunction restraining the anti-graft agency from freezing the accounts the governor is operating with Zenith Bank.
The account was last year June frozen over allegation that it contained a sum of N2.999 billion out of the 3.2 billion dollars suspected to have been distributed through the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
But the account was unfrozen on December 13 last year after which Fayose withdrew the sum of N5 million from the bank’s branch in Ado-Ekiti shortly after the judgment was delivered. The EFCC filed an appeal against the judgment on grounds that the money was a proceed of crime.
The Appeal Court in panel comprising Justices Ahmad Belgore, Fatima Akinbami and Paul Elechi in a unanimous judgment held that that the EFCC did not attach notice of appeal and the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti judgment of December 13, 2016, which ordered the anti-graft agency to unfreeze the governor’s account that the EFCC appealed against.
The judgement read by Justice Akinbami said: “No valid appeal has been made against the judgement of the lower court which unfreeze the account. Against the judgment the EFCC was appealing against was not attached to this application.
“EFCC also failed to show sufficient evidence that the money in the account was a proceed of crime as claimed. In doing this, we expect the EFCC to have showed evidence that the plaintiff has been tried for criminal offence before for it to assume that he can receive proceed of crime.
“We also found that there was suppression of facts to get the account frozen in the first instance. It was also noted that Governor Fayose in line with Section 308 enjoys immunity and his personal account can’t be frozen
“Having not done all these as demanded by law and equity, as those facts were facts that would assist in exercising the court’s discretion either for or against as it is an application that is predicated on discretion of the court. The application is hereby thrown out,”.
The court also said that the alleged damning intelligent report by the EFCC, which it claimed to have received concerning money purportedly paid into Governor Fayose’s account by Senator Musiliu Obanikoro was not provided nor attached for the court to see.
It described EFCC’s claim on the receipt of an intelligent report concerning money purportedly paid into Governor Fayose’s account by Obanikoro as mere speculation, saying; “the court does not embark on speculation.”
The court also held that since the EFCC had admitted that N80 million had already been withdrawn from the accounts, saying that Chief Ozekhome was right to say that the cat had already been completed and an injunction cannot be granted for act already completed.
Counsel to Fayose, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who described the verdict as “another victory over tyranny” advised the EFCC to act within the rule of law in its operations.
Ozekhome said the anti-graft agency will continue to lose cases it filed against suspects in courts until it divorces itself of selective justice and taking biased position in the politics of the country.
He said: “This portrayed judiciary as the sentinel on the door of the poor, defenceless and oppressed. Governor Fayose and myself had again been vindicated that EFCC’s operations have not been based on law but on emotion.”