Ozekhome Asks Court to Vacate Order Freezing His Account


Davidson Iriekpen
Human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the order freezing his account.
Justice Abdulazeez Anka on February 7, ordered a temporary forfeiture of N75million found in Ozekhome’s Guaranty Trust Bank account.

The order followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prayed the court to freeze Ozakhome’s account temporarily on the grounds that the N75 million was suspected to be proceed of crime.
Ozekhome is praying for an order discharging and/or vacating forthwith, the interim order made ex-parte, which ordered an interim order of forfeiture to freeze or attach the money for 120 days.

He sought an order restraining the federal government and the EFCC, whether by themselves, their operatives, agents, servants, and/or privies howsoever, from dealing in anyway and manner as to the operation or the proprietary rights of the ownership of the account.

Ozekhome said the application for an order for interim attachment/forfeiture of his account was done in bad faith by EFCC, which he said did not comply with statutory and judicial authorities in obtaining an interim order vide motion ex parte.
According to him, the respondent allegedly suppressed material facts in obtaining the order, therefore, the action is unconstitutional as same offends sections 36, 37 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution as there was no legal justification for EFCC’s action.

“The applicant’s family, staff, dependants, associates, business and livelihood will greatly suffer, and are already suffering and will continue to suffer irreparable damage if this application is not granted, and the blockade or freezing of the account lifted immediately.
He argued that the entire application leading to the grant of the interim order ex-parte amounts to forum shopping and was calculated to overreach him.

Ozekhome said the N75million was part-payment of legal fees from Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose.
“The issue of whether or not the funds in  Fayose’s account from which the N75 million was posted to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers GTBank account is suspected proceed of crime is currently on appeal as filed and entered by the self same counsel to the respondent herein, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo Iseoluwa,” Ozekhome said.
He also filed an affidavit of urgency deposed to by a lawyer in his firm Chimaobi Onuigbo, praying that that the case be heard urgently.

The lawyer said the temporary freezing of  his account has caused Ozekhome “untold embarrassment, public odium, obloquy and mental agony as the respondent gave very wide publicity to the said freezing or attachment in print, electronic and social media, thus giving the wrong impression that he has committed a criminal offence against the laws of the land.”
On the materials facts EFCC allegedly suppressed, Ozekhome said EFCC did not disclose to Justice Anka the fact that Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, had defrozen Fayose’s accounts forthwith, thereby allowing the governor to operate them, before Fayose transferred N75 million to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers account.

Ozekhome said as at the time Fayose transferred N75million to his chambers account, there was no court processes filed or served on the applicant, indicating that the EFCC was on appeal, or asking the court to stay the execution of the order defreezing Fayose’s account.
“Fayose, had himself withdrawn the sum of N5,000,000 in cash before transferring the sum of N75,000,000 to the account of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers,” the lawyer said.