A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday validated its order made on July 20, 2016 authorising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to seize some properties belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, pending the completion of an ongoing investigation.Â Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ruled that the order of interim forfeiture did not violate the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution which confers immunity from civil and criminal proceedings on the governor.
â€œIt 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,â€ the judge ruled.
He added, â€œAlthough Section 308 of the Constitution serves to isolate governors of states from the distraction of litigation and legal proceedings, to enable them to attend to official responsibilities, it should not be interpreted in such a way as to defeat the fight against corruption, to mean that the EFCC or other investigating agencies cannot take a peep into the assets or personal accounts of a serving governor in the execution of a strictly worded and mutually supervised interim attachment orders for the purposes of obtaining evidence for use in future when the immunity has lapsed.â€
But the judge reiterated on Tuesday that the order of interim forfeiture made on July 20 had a lifespan of 45 days from the date it was issued.
It ordered that the EFCC must conclude its investigation within the 45 days lifespan of the order, adding that the order would automatically dissolve if the EFCC failed to serve a motion on notice seeking its extension on Fayose at least five days to its expiration.
Justice Dimgba delivered his ruling on Tuesday shortly after hearing the application by Fayoseâ€™s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), asking the court to set aside the interim forfeiture orders on 10 grounds.
EFCCâ€™s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Akoja, opposed the application insisting that the commission had violated no law by obtaining the order.
The properties affected by the interim forfeiture orders re-affirmed by the court on Tuesday are four sets of four-bedroom apartments at Charlets 3, 4, 6 and 9, Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The two others are at 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and Plot 1504 Yedzeram Street, Maitama Abuja.
Culled from THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER