By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has thrown its weight behind the decision of the Economic Financial and Other Crimes Commission to freeze the personal account of Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
According to SERAP in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, the EFCC acted lawfully citing Section 308 of the 1999 constitution and international law particularly the UN Convention against corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.
In the statement obtained by BLACKFACE on Sunday, SERAP arged that, â€œThe freezing of the account is a preventive measure targeting the rem, which is necessary for the conduct of an effective investigation of allegations of corruption involving former National Security Adviser Sambo Dazuki.â€
Mumuni added that, â€œThe freezing of accounts of sitting governors and other high-ranking public officials accused of corruption is essential for the flow of investigation which is allowed under Section 308. The investigation is pointless without the freezing of the account.â€
He went further to state that â€œSpecifically, Article 30 of the UN Convention against Corruption entrenches a functional notion of immunity; that is, it attaches to the office and not the office holder.
â€œUnder Article 30, states are required to ensure that immunity of public officials is not used as a ploy to frustrate prosecution of cases involving other persons such as Dazuki, accused of corruption.â€
SERAP believes without the freezing of the accounts, the investigation and adjudication of corruption and money laundering allegations involving the former National Security Adviser may be undermined, which will directly violate Article 30 requirements.
â€œSimilarly, article 31 of the convention covers the â€˜whatâ€™ and not the â€˜whoâ€™. It allows states to take measures to identify, trace, restrain, seize or freeze property that might be the object of an eventual confiscation order.
â€œOne such measure provided for under the provision is to ensure that anticorruption bodies such as the EFCC can adopt provisional measures including freezing of assets involved in suspicious transaction reports, at the very outset of an investigation.
â€œAccording to the UN Technical Guide on the interpretation of the convention, â€˜to be effective, restraint, seizure or freezing measures by anticorruption agencies should be taken ex parte and without prior notice. Where judicial authorization is required, the procedure should be fashioned in such a manner as not to delay the authorization and frustrate the procedure.â€