Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has declared that the seizure of properties belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State did not violate the provisions of section 308 of the Constitution which confers immunity from civil and criminal proceedings on the governor.
It can be recalled that the Court had on July 20, 2016, authorised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seize some properties of the Governor pending the completion of an ongoing investigation.
Displeased by the ruling, Fayose through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), asked the court to set aside the interim forfeiture orders on 10 grounds including a violation of his immunity.
Delivering his ruling on Tuesday after hearing the application, Justice Dimgba declared that the Fayose’s immunity wasn’t violated but reiterated that the order of interim forfeiture made on July 20 had a lifespan of 45 days from the date it was issued.
Ihe added that the EFCC must conclude its investigation within the 45 days lifespan of the order because that 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.
“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 judge ruled.
“Although 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.”
The properties affected by the interim forfeiture orders are four sets of four-bedroom apartments at Charlets 3, 4, 6 and 9, Plot 100, Tiaminu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos; 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and Plot 1504 Yedzeram Street, Maitama Abuja.