Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State has lost his bid to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes from seizing his property in some choice areas of Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
A judge of the FHC, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, has ruled that the temporary forfeiture order the anti-graft agency obtained in relation to the property worth billions of Naira, was in order.
According to Justice Dimgba, the forfeiture did not in any way violate the immunity conferred by Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution on Governor Fayose.
The affected properties to which the order relate, include four sets of four-bedroom apartments at Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9, Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, and Plot 1504 Yedzeram Street, Maitama Abuja.
The ruling followed spirited attempts by Fayose, through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to vacate the order, which temporarily seizes the said property from the governor, who is accused of collecting bribes from contractors and taking an inexplicable sum of N4.7 billion from the Office of the National Security Adviser, a claim, he has vehemently denied.
The judge said the intention of the immunity clause granted to some public office holders is not to shield them from investigation by security agencies for the purpose of obtaining evidence for future uses.
Dimgba said: “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 order was in relation to the EFCC’s investigation of some activities of the governor and some of his associates. The EFCC had while seeking the order, stated in an affidavit accompanying its motion ex-parte that the property were acquired through proceeds of fraud, which Fayose allegedly got through kickbacks from contractors and other alleged fraud.”
EFCC told the court that the cash Fayose used in purchasing the listed property was drawn from the sum of N1.2 billion, a part of the N4.7 billion stolen from the treasury of the Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Ozekhome, had in his application filed on notice on July 21, hinged his request for the court to set aside the order of interim forfeiture on 10 grounds, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain and/or proceed to grant the interim order.
He contended that in view of the immunity being enjoyed by Fayose as sitting governor and by virtue of the provisions of Section 308 of the Constitution, he (Fayose) “cannot be proceeded against in a court of law”.
But Justice Dimgba upheld the argument of EFCC lawyer, Andrew Akoja, to the effect that the July 20 order was validly made.