It is obvious that EFCC is malicious in its actions against Fayose. This is because two heavy SANs have already said so.Olanikpekun and Agbakoba are not just SANs but are also former presidents of the NBA and their experiences far outweigh the wits of any APC Facebook baby lawyer in my state.
SANs Disagree on Legality of Fayose’s Frozen Account
Senior lawyers Tuesday disagreed on whether it was legal for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freeze Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose’s account.
They agreed that immunity does not stop a governor from being investigated, but there was no consensus on whether a governor’s account can be frozen.
Those who spoke on the issue include former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidents Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), George Oguntade (SAN), Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) and constitutional lawyer Ike Ofuokwu.
Olanipekun and Agbakoba said only a court could decide whether the account of someone with immunity can be frozen.
According to Olanipekun, the Supreme Court case of Fawehinmi v IGP (2002), which held that a sitting governor can be investigated while in office, might not be a direct authority to settle the question.
He said: “A case is only authority for what it decides. The present position is dicey and fluid. To my mind, any sitting governor who’s shown to have attracted illicit funds to his personal account can and should be investigated. But the cardinal question is: can his account be frozen without him knowing why it has been frozen by any agent or agency of government?
“I rather think otherwise, as freezing of account presupposes that an application has been made to and granted by the court to so do.In addition , an enrolled copy of the order should be served on him , giving and specifying reasons for the freezing , so as to enable him challenge the order if he so wishes. All these conditions precedent have to be complied with as we operate a constitutional democracy rooted in the rule of law.
“On the flip side, it can also be argued that if a sitting governor can only be investigated for the time being as the constitution clothes him with immunity from any civil or criminal proceedings, is freezing of his account on the order of court not another way of subjecting him to criminal prosecution, contrary to the clear imperatives of the constitution?
“This is because there can’t be a freezing action without a prior court order; and for any freezing application to be filed in court, the name of the sitting governor has to stated as the defendant/ accused.”
He cautioned lawyers and commentators against “jumping into conclusion on any issue without weighing the implications of what we say or sell to the public.”
For Agbakoba, while immunity does not stop criminal investigation against a sitting governor, he does not think EFCC was right to freeze Fayose’s account.
“It is doubtful, however, if freezing account is within the scope of investigation. I think not. I think it is a case to be tested in the courts,” Agbakoba said.
Ngige, however, believes EFCC did not err. “The EFCC has the power to freeze the account of any person suspected to be involved in the commission of a crime. This power is not restricted to accounts of any person enjoying immunity be him a Governor or President.