Some members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, stormed the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja, demanding immediate release of the detained state Commissioner of Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo and the Accountant-General, Mrs Yemisi Owolabi.
The lamakers, who arrived the commission’s office around 9.00 a.m., threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against the acting chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, should he fail to release the duo whom they said were being held illegally.
Adderresing newsmen shortly after the members had submitted a petition to the commission on the detention of the officials, the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Honourable Samuel Omotosho, also expressed fears over the state of the health of Chief Ojo, whom he alleged had been denied access to medication since his arrest last Thursday.
Omotosho said the commission denied Chief Ojo’s personnal physician access to him, as he was turned back with the drugs he brought to his patient.
Speaking on the petition to the commission, Omotosho said the House described ojo and Owolabi’s arrest as “premeditated, malicious, politically-motivated, contemptuous and unconstitutional in all ramifications and that it smacked of gangsterism by an agency that derives its power from the constitution but acts in clear contempt of the rule of law.
“It is in view of this that we demand the immediate release of the Commissioner for Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo and the State Accountant-General, Mrs Yemisi Owolabi,” the House said.
According to the petition dated October 2 and signed by the Speaker, Honourable Kolawole Oluwawole, the House said there was a subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, granted on November 7, 2016, in the case of Attorney-General of Ekiti State Vs EFCC, IGP, Ekiti State House of Assembly and 15 others.
The House of Assembly vowed that it would not surrender its constitutional responsibilities to EFCC or any agency of the Federal Government under any guise.
According to the lawmakers, “democracy is about respect for the rule of law and the EFCC, being an agency of the Federal Government established by an Act of the National Assembly cannot and must not act against the constitution of Nigeria by usurping the powers of the state House of Assembly and we view strongly the continuous display of impunity by the commission.
“We, therefore, wish to put you on notice that should you fail to desist from further disobedience to the court order mention above by continuous infraction against the people and the government of Ekiti State, contempt proceeding will be initiated against you without delay.”
The petition read: “The court granted an Order of Interim Injunction restraining the first and second defendants (EFCC and the Inspector-General of Police, their agents, privies or any other investigative agency, however, described) from arresting, detaining or investigating any person or persons, whether past or present officials in the Ekiti State government without any report of indictment from the Ekiti State House of Assembly pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice filed in this suit.
“It also granted an order of interim injunction restraining the third to seventh defendants (Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, the House of Assembly, Clerk of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Accountant General and Auditor General of Ekiti State) by themselves or by their servants, agents and privies from surrendering their constitutional assigned roles, including power of control over the public funds of Ekiti State, the duty to direct or cause to be directed the investigation or the disbursement and administration of money appropriated or to be appropriated under any appropriated bill passed by the House of Assembly or as enabled under constitution, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice already filed in this suit.
“The consequential effects of the court order, which has not been vacated by a superior court, is that the Ekiti State House of Assembly, being the only institution vested with the powers to appropriate fund for the State Government and enforces the judicious use of such, through its Public Account Committee must first carry out its function of investigating the use of fund appropriated for the State Government and report of indictment made.
“In this instance case, the Ekiti State House of Assembly did not report any indictment against the Commissioner for Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo and the Accountant-General, Mrs Owolabi to the EFCC.
“Therefore, the EFCC acted in violation of a valid and subsisting court order by arresting and detaining since Thursday, September 28, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Ojo and Accountant-General, Mrs Owolabi.”
Describing the EFCC as partisan, the House said: “Despite the petition against former governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi and others dated November 24, 2016 and submitted to the EFCC by the Ekiti State House of Assembly, you have declined to invite any of those that we complained against.
“Instead of acting on our petition, your commission opted to turn itself into an agent of harassment and intimidation against the government of Ekiti State, acting on every frivolous petition.”