There have been reactions to the announcement by the Ekiti State government, on Monday evening, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had frozen the account of the state governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose.
The governor had announced, on Monday, that his account with a new generation bank had been suspended by the EFCC and declared that the action was illegal, as it infringed on his constitutional right and the immunity conferred on him by the constitution, as a governor.
Fayose had also announced that he would legally challenge the action by the EFCC.
Elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, in a statement on Tuesday, described the action of the EFCC as a “harassment” of Governor Fayose and charged the commission to desist from the action.
The Ekiti PDP Elders Forum, in the statement by a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Paul Alabi, said the Federal Government should not “harassing or intimidate Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose and top officials of the state government.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State House of Assembly has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately defreeze the bank account of Governor ayose, describing the action of the commission as ultra vires.
Maintaining that a citizen’s account could not be frozen without a court order and since a sitting governor could not be listed in a case before a court of law on account of his immunity, the action was null and void, the House said the order formed part of the resolution of the House, which also witnessed passing of a vote of confidence on Governor Fayose, at its plenary on Tuesday, at the Assembly complex in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
Speaker of the House, Right Honourable (Pastor) Kola Oluwawole, and Leader of Business, Honourable Tunji Akinyele, at plenary, recalled how the election of Governor Fayose on June 21, 2014 was acclaimed as free, fair, creadible and a model for the then coming presidential election in the country.
They opined that, yesterday (Tuesday), being the second anniversary of the election, it was a sad commentary on the nation’s democracy.
The EFCC, while defending its action, said Fayose’s immunity did not extend to any suspicious account he runs. The spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, made the position known in an interview.
Uwujaren said the EFCC had the right to investigate any governor whose account was being used to move funds, adding that “Immunity does not prevent the EFCC from investigating suspicious accounts of those enjoying immunity and Fayose cannot be an exception.”
Also, some lawyers have decried the move while another has decribed the anti graft agency’s as right.
Speaking with THE Nigerian Tribune, Mr Monday Ubani, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) Ikeja branch, pointed out that the EFCC was in line.
“I believe that the EFCC is in line by freezing Fayose’s account. He can always sue EFCC and then explain how he got the money in his account.
“Looking at the issue wholistically from the point of law, taking a cue from the Supreme Court’s judgment in Gani Fawehinmi Vs IG, there is an inmunity that prevents serving governors from being arrested, but it does not prevent them from being investigated.
Also speaking on the issue, human rights lawyer and social commentator, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, pointed out that the move was illegal.
“There is no controversy in this matter. EFCC should de-freeze the account, pile up its investigations and wait for Fayose to complete his tenure. Pure and simple,” Adegboruwa said.
“By the provision of Section 308(1)(a) of our Constitution as amended, no suit can be instituted against Ayodele Fayose and/or any Nigerian governor in any court in Nigeria,” he added.
Also lending his voice, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Chief Ladi Williams, pointed out that the EFCC needed to trace the source of the money to be sure of its source.
“The EFCC cannot just freeze his account without a court order. Besides, if they trace the money and discover that it is meant for Ekiti state, then there is a problem for him there,” he said.