Appeal Court Upholds EFCC’s Decision to Freeze Fayose’s Account

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Davidson Iriekpen

The Court of Appeal sitting in Ado Ekiti thursday upheld the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to challenge the judgment of Justice Taiwo. O Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti which unfroze the account of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in Zenith Bank.

Upon the judgment of the lower court, the governor had withdrawn the sum of N5million from the account.
But Justice J. S. Ikeyegha who read the judgment, ordered the freezing of the account forthwith.

EFCC had in December 2016 frozen Fayose’s accounts after it allegedly traced part of the N4.7billionn arms funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to the accounts.

But in her original judgment, Justice Taiwo held that the action of the EFCC breached Fayose’s fundamental rights to fair hearing, and his immunity as a sitting governor.

She ordered the EFCC to immediately unfreeze the governor’s accounts.

Two days later, the governor went to the bank to withdraw N5million and jolted by the action, the EFCC returned to court through a motion asking for the stay of execution of the judgment.

However, ruling on the application, Justice Taiwo said: “Once a judgment is being executed, you cannot stay the execution again.”
But the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal frowned at the decision, saying that any lower court’s judgment is still subject to appeal and further to Supreme Court as the situation may warrant.

“An anti-graft agency is empowered to freeze any account suspected to be warehousing proceed of an unlawful activities without any human inducement, there is nothing like breach of fundamental rights in such move,” the court held.

Justice Ikeyegha then faulted the lower court’s judgment that the freezing of the account is a breach of fundamental rights and thereby ordered the account to remain frozen.

The appellate court ruled that the decision of the lower court to dismisse the motion for stay of execution filed by the commission against the judgment lacked merit.

It consequently upturned the order of the lower court that Zenith Bank and the EFCC should immediately freeze Fayose’s accounts.